State v. O'Neill

In State v. O'Neill, 121 Wis. 2d 300, 359 N.W.2d 906 (1984), the defendant was a campus police officer who was investigating reported thefts involving stereo equipment and clothing. Even after receiving information from a student about his suspicion that his roommate was in possession of some stolen articles, O'Neill was unable to secure a search warrant for the residence because the student was unwilling to sign a formal complaint. Eventually, O'Neill staked out the residence with some students whose property had been stolen. When the suspected thief denied them entry, they waited until the house was empty, knocked on the door and entered after receiving no response. This unlawful entry led to O'Neill being charged with burglary, with misconduct in public office serving as the underlying felony. See O'Neill, 121 Wis. 2d at 301-04. A jury found O'Neill guilty. He appealed, arguing that the evidence did not support the trial court's decision to submit the burglary charge to the jury. See 121 Wis. 2d at 304. The court of appeals affirmed O'Neill's conviction and the supreme court accepted the case for further review. See id. The supreme court observed that the burglary statute did not specify which felonies can satisfy the underlying felony component of burglary. See 121 Wis. 2d at 305. Thus, the court looked for guidance from an earlier version of the burglary statute that specified "murder, rape, robbery, larceny or other felony" as appropriate felonies. Id. (quoting Wis. Stat. 343.09 (1953)). The court characterized these felonies as "crimes against persons or property." Id.