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Name: People v. Smith
Case #: E037036
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/18/2006

The defendant was properly convicted of burglary after he forced his way into his estranged wife’s home, even though the house was community property. The defendant and his wife had jointly purchased the house during their marriage, but after the defendant assaulted his wife, she obtained a court order giving her temporary exclusive possession of the residence. The defendant was served with notice of the court order, and did not deny that his forcible entry into the house violated that order. However, he argued on appeal that while a family court order could turn an uninvited entry into his former home into an illegal trespass, he should not have been convicted of felony burglary for entering premises in which he owned a co-equal interest. The appellate court rejected the argument, noting that the defendant had no legal right to enter the house and accepting the People’s analogy to the situation in which a landlord leases property to a tenant and then breaks into the property to commit a felony. In such a situation, the landlord would be guilty of residential burglary, and the defendant was properly convicted of the same offense.