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Name: People v. Goode
Case #: C078760
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/30/2015

Evidence that homeowner heard defendant open and close a metal storm door over the front door of the house before the defendant attempted to open a window was sufficient to sustain a conviction for first degree burglary (Pen. Code, § 459). A homeowner woke up to what he thought was someone trying to open and close the metal storm door on the front door of his house. He was unsure whether it was a dream until he heard someone trying to jiggle his side window. He saw Goode through a window and called the police. Goode was ultimately convicted of first degree burglary (for opening the storm door) and attempted burglary (for jiggling the window). He appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence of burglary. Held: Affirmed on this point. A person who enters any house with the intent to commit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary. The slightest entry past the outer boundary of the building by any part of the body or an instrument is sufficient. While the homeowner was initially unsure that he heard the storm door because he was sleeping, he was positive that he had heard the storm door close when he heard the jiggling at the window. Goode argued that there was no evidence that he entered the house because there was no evidence that he penetrated the airspace behind the storm door. (See People v. Valencia (2002) 28 Cal.4th 270, 273.) The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that the jury could have reasonably inferred that Goode opened the storm door, reached into the airspace behind it and tried to open the front door, and, when that was unsuccessful, closed the storm door and proceeded to the nearby window where he tried to gain entry to the house again. Accordingly, the evidence was sufficient to sustain Goode’s conviction for first degree burglary.

Trial court erred under Penal Code section 654 when it imposed a sentence on the attempted burglary conviction. The trial court imposed sentences for both the first degree burglary (at the front door) and attempted burglary (at the window). On appeal, Goode argued that the trial court should have stayed punishment for the attempted burglary pursuant to section 654. The Court of Appeal agreed. Although People v. Correa (2012) 54 Cal.4th 331, 335-336, held that section 654 does not bar multiple punishments when a single act gives rise to multiple violations of the same criminal statute, the Court of Appeal concluded that it did not “overrule the principle from Neal [v. State of California (1960) 55 Cal.3d 11] that a course of criminal conduct constitutes one act for purposes of section 654 if all of the offenses committed in the course of conduct were incident to one objective.” Here, Goode tried to gain entry into the house through the front door and a few seconds later tried to gain entry through a nearby window. “As a matter of law, we conclude the lapse of a few seconds between the two acts was not sufficient to make defendant’s course of conduct divisible in time, such that he could be punished separately for each act.”