Case About Illegally Entering a Car and Remaining Briefly Inside

In People v. Butler (119 Misc 2d 1071, 465 NYS2d 477 Sup. Ct., NY Co., Rothwax, J., 1983), the evidence before the Grand Jury established that the defendant was observed breaking the vent window of a parked automobile on a public street, entering the car, and kneeling on the front passenger's seat facing the dashboard before he fled. The court held that, "Integral to the court's analysis of the other uses prohibited by the statute is the exercise of some degree of control over the confines of the car or the car's mechanism... Conversely, conduct in regard to an automobile which does not approach to any degree an exercise of dominion and control over the car, either mechanically or physically, to the exclusion of the owner's proprietary interest, even transitorily, is not a use' of the automobile within the contemplation of the Legislature." (Id at 1073.) The court reasoned that unlawfully entering the automobile and remaining briefly inside without otherwise tampering with the car's operative mechanism did not constitute an unauthorized use of the automobile within the meaning of the statute: The question remains whether the defendant's entry into another's car and his brief residence therein constitutes a "use" in the sense of an exercise of dominion and control of the car.