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Breaking Into a Room Within a Home is Not Home Invasion

Home Invasion in Michigan

A new opinion from the Michigan Court of Appeals has clarified the parameters of what constitutes a “dwelling” for the purposes of the charge of Home Invasion in Michigan. If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of Home Invasion, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading criminal defense attorney in Berrien County.

Home Invasion in Michigan

In 1994, Michigan passed legislation that transformed the common law crime of Burglary (also known as “breaking and entering”) into the offense of Home Invasion, which was further subdivided into Home Invasion in the First, Second, and Third Degrees. The difference between the degrees of Home Invasion depends on the circumstances that exist during the commission of the offense.

For example, both First and Second Degree Home Invasion requires that the Defendant either intended to commit an assault, a larceny, or a felony within the dwelling, or that the Defendant committed one of those crimes while entering, present within, or leaving the dwelling. However, for First Degree Home Invasion to exist, one of two additional circumstances must also exist; either the Defendant must have been armed with a dangerous weapon, or another person must have been lawfully present within the dwelling during the offense. In contrast, for Third Degree Home Invasion, all that is required is that, at the time the Defendant entered, he or she must have either intended to commit a misdemeanor within the dwelling, or that he or she committed a misdemeanor while entering, present within, or leaving the dwelling.

Is a Room Within the Home a “Dwelling”?

In People v. Bush, the Defendant was accused of First Degree Home Invasion. Although he had received lawful permission to enter into the home, the Defendant later forced his way into a room within that home in order to assault one of the residents who had locked him out. At trial, the issue was whether the Home Invasion statute’s definition of a “dwelling” also covered each of the individual rooms within a home, and the trial court ultimately sided with the prosecution in finding that it did.

However, the Michigan Court of Appeals overruled this decision. In doing so, it noted that Michigan law defined a “dwelling” to mean “a structure or shelter that is used permanently or temporarily as a place of abode.” Because Michigan law did not also define the words “structure,” “shelter,” or “abode,” the Court of Appeals consulted the dictionary definitions for these terms, and it found that these terms all referred to the entirety of a structure, rather than to individual rooms within the structure. And because the Court of Appeals did not see any indication in the language of the statute that the Legislature intended for individual rooms to be covered, it found that such rooms should not be included.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Home Invasion in any degree, retaining an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of the offense can be the difference between an acquittal and a conviction. For further information, contact Peter J. Johnson Law Office, PLLC, a leading criminal defense attorney in Berrien County, at 269.982.1100 or visit www.AttorneyPeterJohnson.com.

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