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Trial Court Must Dismiss First Degree Burglary

Corona v. Superior Court Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: A161369 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: June 21, 2021. San Francisco police arrested Corona after he entered a freestanding garage located on the same property as a house. The garage contained two vehicles, laundry machines, and other personal property belonging to the residents. Corona was charged with first-degree burglary, which applies to the burglary of “an inhabited dwelling house,” Pen. Code 460(a). Corona argued that the first-degree burglary charge was improper because the detached garage is not part of the house. Corona also made a motion under section 17(b), requesting a reduction of the lesser-included offense of second-degree burglary to a misdemeanor. The superior court indicated that, if it were to set aside the first-degree burglary charge, it would also set aside the lesser-included second-degree burglary charge because “the case law is pretty clear it is a substantial right” to obtain a section 17(b) ruling before the information is filed but denied Corona’s motion to set aside the first-degree burglary charge and did not rule on section 17(b). The court of appeal issued a peremptory writ of prohibition restraining the superior court from taking any action on the charge of first-degree burglary except dismissal. Corona’s position is consistent with the text and history of the statutes, decades of case law, and the legislature’s acquiescence in longstanding precedent.

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