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State v. Thibeault

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant, Dale Thibeault, was charged with burglary after he stole several items from a friend’s home.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In order for a defendant to be held criminally liable for burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had no license or permission to enter the victim’s home.

    Facts.

    Defendant, Dale Thibeault, was charged with burglary after he stole several items from a friends home. At trial, the friend argued that he did not give permission for Thibeault to enter his home, however Thibeault testified that the friend did indeed give him permission to go into the home. Thibeault requested that the trial judge instruct the jury that he had permission to enter his friend’s house. The trial judge obliged but still instructed the jury that Thibeault could be found guilty even if he had permission to enter the home. Thibeault was convicted of burglary.

    Issue.

    In order for a defendant to be held criminally liable for burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had no license or permission to enter the victims home?

    Held.

    Yes. In order for a defendant to be held criminally liable for burglary, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had no license or permission to enter the victims home.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    While traditionally, for a defendant to be criminally liable for burglary it was required that the prosecution prove the defendant committed a breaking into a building or structure to be considered a burglary, Maine has changed the traditional rules by statute. All that the prosecution needs to prove is the defendant made an unlicensed entry with an intent to commit a crime in the structure. The prosecution argues that even if Thibeault had permission to enter, that permission was revoked once his purpose in the structure became unlawful. However, the intent to commit a crime element and unlicensed entry element are two distinct elements and thus the entry must have still be an unlicensed one. Thus, the trial court erred in allowing the jury to find Thibeault guilty if his entry was a licensed one.


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