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Under the burglary statute, a defendant commits first-degree burglary if he illegally enters a structure that (1) is adapted for overnight accommodation but no individual is present; (2) is not adapted for overnight accommodation but an individual is present; or (3) is adapted for overnight accommodation and an individual is present. In other words, for burglary to qualify as a second-degree felony, the illegal entry must involve a building, structure, or portion entered that is not adapted for overnight accommodation and no one is present.
Upon entering her home, complainant Carmen Rivera found her brother, appellant Juan M. Rivera, inside her basement rummaging through her belongings. Carmen had a valid stay away order against her brother. When Carmen told appellant to leave, the latter pointed a screwdriver at his sister, and threatened to kill her. Appellant left, taking with him a radio belonging to Carmen. Only the complainant had a key for the basement, whose entrance was from the outside of her home. Carmen filed a criminal complaint against appellant. The trial court convicted appellant of first-degree burglary and the related offenses. On appeal, appellant contended that his conduct did not constitute first-degree burglary because the basement he entered was not adapted for overnight accommodation, and there was no one present in the basement at the time of his entry.
Did the acts of the appellant constitute first-degree burglary?
The Court rejected appellant’s contentions, holding that the complainant's house contained three apartments, all of which were occupied. The basement sat below the apartments under the same roof, and the complainant used it to store personal belongings. The fact that the basement was accessible only through an exterior entrance did not sever it from the rest of the house. Moreover, the basement contained a bed, television, portable radio, and washing machine. The basement was habitable. As the basement was functionally connected to the rest of the house and habitable, it met the definition of a "place adapted for overnight accommodation" under § 3502. Furthermore, the complainant returned home and entered the basement during the burglary. Thus, she met the statutory definition of "present at the time of entry" because she entered the basement while the burglary was in progress.