Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Jersey supreme court settles issue as to Whether a locked fenced yard is a structure for Purposes of burglary offense

In state v. Olivero (decided June 29, 2015) our highest court held that a fenced-in and locked lot is a structure within the n.j.s.a. 2c:18-2.

In this case the defendant-Olivero entered the fenced yard to steal industrial equipment that was located in a fenced yard which adjoined a warehouse which was part of a larger manufacturing facility.  At the close of the state’s case the defendant moved for a directed verdict arguing that a fenced yard was not a structure for purposes of the burglary statute.

The trial court and appellate division disagreed with the defendant’s argument and the Supreme Court granted certification. (217 N.J. 304 (2014)

The court agreed that although the term structure is not clear, legislative intent for penal statutes must be strictly construed, and doctrine of lenity should not apply.

Therefore, the rule of law for this case is that if you enter a fenced lot which is locked for the purpose of committing a theft or attempted theft, you have committed a crime of burglary in the state of new jersey.

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