Tuesday, July 20, 2010

People v. Glazier (Cal. Ct. App. - July 19, 2010)

Here's a good hypothetical. Something appropriate for the California bar exam, or maybe a class on California criminal law:

"Defendant hates his next-door neighbor. While the neighbor is remodeling his house, and living elsewhere, defendant stands on his own property, uses a paint sprayer to spray gasoline into the crawl space of his neighbor's home, and lights it on fire with a 20-foot torch, burning the house to the ground. For what major crimes can defendant properly be convicted?"

I'm sure you got arson, of course. And if you're fancy, "arson of an inhabited structure or property." Possession of flammable material too, though the sentence on that isn't exactly major. Some other relatively minor charges as well.

But you're missing something. An offense that's charged in California in a very high number of cases, and that carries a heavy penalty. No, not attempted murder; remember, the house was unoccupied, and defendant knew that.


Did the defendant break into the house? No. Did defendant steal or take anything? No. Did defendant ever even leave his own lawn? Nope.

Still, in California, it's burglary. Because an instrument he held (the torch) entered the property of another in order to commit a felony.

Get that one right?