Building Legal Definition In Washington
In State v. Deitchler, 75 Wn. App. 134, 876 P.2d 970, 971-72 (1994) the defendant placed his hand inside an evidence locker located at a police station. the locker was ten inches high, ten inches wide, and perhaps two feet deep with a six-inch long and one-inch wide slot. 876 P.2d at 970.
The trial court ruled the evidence locker was a unit separately secured, thus a separate building under Wash. Rev. Code 9A.04.110(5). 6 Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 971.
On appeal, the court determined "by negative implication, that a structure or space within a larger building will not be a 'separate building' unless the larger building has 'two or more units separately secured or occupied,' and the structure or space being considered is one of those 'units.'" Id.
The court concluded the evidence locker was neither a unit of the police station nor separate building, therefore the burglary charge could not be sustained. 876 P.2d at 971-72.
In the recent case of State v. Miller, 90 Wn. App. 720, 954 P.2d 925, 930 (1998), the Washington Court of Appeals held that a structure too small for a human being to live in or do business in was not a "building" or a "structure" under the burglary statute. Miller entered a 24-hour self-service car wash and broke several coin boxes and took the money. 954 P.2d at 927.
Because the car wash was open to the public, his entry and remaining was lawful, therefore he could not be charged for burglary. Id.
Although the state maintained Miller remained unlawfully when he formed the intent to commit a crime, the court rejected this reasoning because it was unsupported by case law or statute. 954 P.2d at 928.
Intent was irrelevant and did not establish unlawful entry. to support the holding, the court cited to Deitchler where the judge "concluded that a structure or space within a large building is not a separate building unless the large building has 'two or more units separately secured or occupied' and the structure or space being considered is one of those 'units.'" Miller, 954 P.2d at 930 (quoting Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 971).
Under this interpretation, the separate stalls and coin boxes in Miller occupied by a single tenant and not consisting of two or more units separately secured or occupied, did not substantiate the burglary charge. Miller, 954 P.2d at 930.
Finally, we note "burglary is ordinarily considered only in the context of a structure large enough to accommodate a human being." Miller, 954 P.2d at 930; Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 970. "A structure too small for a human being to live in or do business in is not a 'building' or 'structure' for the purpose of burglary." Miller, 954 P.2d at 930; Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 971.
"'If, with intent to commit a crime against a person or property therein, one enters or remains unlawfully in a building other than a vehicle or a dwelling,'" "'a person is guilty of burglary in the second degree'" under Wash. Rev. Code 9A.52.030(1) (West 1998).Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 971.
Aside from its ordinary meaning, a "building" "'includes any dwelling, fenced area, vehicle, railway car, cargo container, or any other structure used for lodging of persons or for carrying on business therein, or for the use, sale or deposit of goods; each unit of a building consisting of two or more units separately secured or occupied is a separate building.'" Deitchler, 876 P.2d at 971 (quoting Wash. Rev. Code 9A.04.110(5) (West 1998)).
By statute, Iowa specifically addresses the storage and safekeeping of anything of value. Iowa Code Ann. 702.12 (West 1993) includes within the phrase in the burglary statute "occupied structure" overnight accommodation, storage or safekeeping for anything of value, whether or not a person is actually present. This section continues:
However, for purposes of Chapter 713, a box, chest, safe, changer, or other object or device which is adapted or used for the deposit or storage of anything of value but which is too small or not designed to allow a person to physically enter or occupy it is not an "occupied structure."