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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: S218233
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/25/2016

Entry into a room within a structure cannot support an additional burglary (Pen. Code, § 459) conviction unless the room provides a separate and objectively reasonable expectation of protection from intrusion than the larger structure. Garcia entered a store with the intent to commit a robbery inside. After accomplishing the robbery, he took the victim—a store employee—to a bathroom in the back of the store and raped her. The jury convicted Garcia of aggravated kidnapping, forcible rape, and two burglaries, among other offenses. The two burglary convictions were based on the theory that Garcia entered the store with the intent to commit a robbery and entered the store’s bathroom with the intent to commit rape. The Court of Appeal upheld separate burglary convictions. The Supreme Court granted review. Held: Reversed. The text of section 459 does not explicitly resolve the question of whether multiple convictions are permitted for serial entries within a single structure. To resolve the ambiguity, the Supreme Court announced a new rule based on the common law origins of burglary, the statutory language, its legislative history, and the case law construing the statute’s requirements: “a burglary does not result from every felonious entry into a room preceded by a burglary of an enclosing structure. Rather, the subsequent entry will constitute a burglary only when the invaded room provides an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy and security, distinct from that the enclosing structure itself provides, which makes the room similar in nature to the stand-alone structures enumerated in section 459.” The bathroom here did not bear objective indications of enhanced privacy and security for its occupants. Although it was located in a back hallway outside of the public’s view, there is no evidence that the bathroom was left locked to the public or others. Garcia should have been charged with and convicted of only a single burglary.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: