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Name: People v. Ulloa
Case #: E045880
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/21/2009

A property interest in a dwelling conveyed by a lease is not a complete defense to the crime of burglary unless possessory interest is also unconditional. Appellant and his wife were co-tenants of a jointly-leased apartment. They were in the midst of separation and appellant had been living elsewhere. One morning appellant came to see his wife, and when she would not let him in, he broke down the door. Appellant then took his wife’s wallet with money in it. At trial, the wife recanted and said appellant was living at the apartment, that someone else had damaged the door, and that appellant never took her wallet. After being convicted of burglary, appellant argued the conviction had to be reversed because he was a co-tenant on a valid lease and he could not burglarize his own home. The Court of Appeal rejected the argument. The possessory right protected by the statute is the right to exert control over the property to the exclusion of others. Here, there was evidence establishing appellant no longer had an unconditional possessory interest in the apartment. Appellant had moved out of the apartment prior to the entry, and presumably did not have a key since he broke the door down.