Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Joseph

Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc

November 22, 2017

STATE OF WASHINGTON, Respondent,
v.
ANTHONY A. JOSEPH, Petitioner.

          STEPHENS, J.

         Anthony Albert Joseph was convicted of second degree criminal trespass as a lesser included offense of second degree vehicle prowling. He challenges his conviction on the ground that unlawful entry into a vehicle is not a trespass "in or upon premises of another." RCW 9A.52.080(1). This case presents a challenging question of statutory interpretation because of the overlapping and intersecting definitions of "building" and "premises" in Title 9A RCW. The Court of Appeals affirmed Joseph's conviction, concluding that a vehicle is a "premises" for the purpose of the second degree trespass statute because a vehicle is a type of "building" and "premises" includes "any building." See State v. Joseph, 195 Wn.App. 737, 739, 744, 381 P.3d 187 (2016), review granted, 187 Wn.2d 1009, 388 P.3d 497 (2017). We affirm the Court of Appeals.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 4, 2014, police responded to a report of vehicle prowling. The responding officer found Anthony Joseph asleep in an unlocked Chevy Blazer on a public street in Ellensburg. The officer recognized Joseph and knew that he was homeless. The officer contacted Joseph and told him to exit the vehicle.

         Initially, Joseph said that he had the owner's permission; however, he then admitted he did not, and was arrested for vehicle prowling. The State filed charges of third degree assault and second degree vehicle prowling.[1] The matter proceeded to a jury trial. The State sought jury instructions on first and second degree criminal trespass as lesser included offenses of the vehicle prowling charge. The trial court refused to instruct the jury on first degree trespass, but instructed the jury on second degree trespass, over Joseph's objection. The State asked the court to define the term "premises" used in the second degree criminal trespass statute, but did not submit a definitional instruction. The trial court did not define "premises, " but allowed the parties to argue whether this term included a motor vehicle.

         The jury acquitted Joseph of vehicle prowling, but found him guilty of second degree criminal trespass. Joseph appealed, and the Court of Appeals, Division Three affirmed his conviction, holding that a motor vehicle constitutes premises for purposes of second degree criminal trespass. See Joseph, 195 Wn.App. at 744.

         ANALYSIS

         This case presents a question of statutory interpretation under chapter 9A.52 RC W. That chapter encompasses the related crimes of burglary, criminal trespass, and vehicle prowling. At issue is whether second degree criminal trespass is a lesser included offense of second degree vehicle prowling. While only these two offenses are directly before us, our analysis must take into account the context and potential impact of our holding on the interpretation of interrelated statutes in this chapter. See, e.g., Jametsky v. Olsen, 179 Wn.2d 756, 762, 317 P.3d 1003 (2014) (statutory meaning is derived "from the context of the entire act").

         A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when "he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree." RCW 9A.52.080(1). First degree criminal trespass, in turn, occurs when a person "knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building." RCW 9A.52.070(1). RCW 9A.52.010(3) defines "premises" to include "any building, dwelling, structure used for commercial aquaculture, or any real property." No provision in chapter 9A.52 RCW defines "building, " but that term is defined at the title level for the criminal code:

         [U]nless a different meaning plainly is required:

(5) "Building, " in addition to its ordinary meaning, 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.

RCW 9A.04.110(5) (emphasis added); see also State v. Lira, 45 Wn.App. 653, 658, 726 P.2d 1015 (1986) (recognizing title-level "building" definition applies to burglary statute under chapter 9A.52 RCW, as '"[t]o ignore a definition section is to refuse to give legal effect to a part of the statutory law of the state'" (quoting State v. Taylor, 30 Wn.App. 89, 95, 632 P.2d 892 (1981))).

         In 1979, the Court of Appeals identified a potential constitutional problem posed by the overlapping definitions of "premises" and "building" as applied to criminal trespass offenses. See State v. Martell, 22 Wn.App. 415, 591 P.2d 789 (1979). Martell was charged with second degree burglary for unlawfully entering a church; the trial court instructed the jury on the lesser included offense of first degree trespass but refused to instruct the jury on second degree trespass. Id. at 416-17. After the jury convicted him of first degree trespass, Martell appealed on the ground that he was denied equal protection of the law. Id. The Court of Appeals agreed, stating:

In viewing the two statutes pertaining to criminal trespass, it is evident that each prescribes different punishment for the same act, namely entering or remaining unlawfully in a building. While RCW 9A.52.080 uses the word "premises" rather than "building, " which term is used in RCW 9A.52.070(1), these two statutes cannot be harmonized on the basis of that distinction. The definitional statute (RCW 9A.52.010) which applies to the entire chapter, includes ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.