Cooper v. People

In Cooper v. People, 973 P.2d 1234 (Colo. 1999), the evidence was unclear whether the defendant had formed the intent to commit the ulterior offense of assault against the victim at the time he entered the home. The trial court instructed the jury that it could find the defendant guilty of burglary if it found that he knowingly and unlawfully entered the home with the intent to commit the crime of assault. Over defense objection, the court, in a supplemental instruction, further instructed the jury that the intent to commit a crime could be formed either before or after entry into the dwelling. The supreme court reversed and remanded for a new trial on the burglary conviction, stating in part: Burglary punishes the defendant who trespasses with the intent to do more harm once on the premises. Thus, to convict a defendant of burglary, a jury must conclude that the defendant had made up his mind to commit some other offense at the point at which he or she becomes a trespasser. If the defendant forms the intent to commit the crime after the trespass is under way, he or she may be guilty of that underlying crime (or attempt) and of trespass- but is not guilty of burglary. (Cooper v. People, supra, 973 P.2d at 1236.) In other words, the trespass must be accompanied by the contemporaneous intent to commit a crime.