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UC Davis Law Review





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The law of burglary has long played a vital role in protecting hearth and home. Because of the violation of one’s personal space, few crimes engender more fear than burglary; thus, the law should provide necessary safety and security against that fear. Among other things, current statutes aim to deter trespassers from committing additional crimes by punishing them more severely based on their criminal intent before they execute their schemes. Burglary law even protects domestic violence victims against abusers who attempt to invade their lives and terrorize them.

However, the law of burglary has expanded and caused so many problems that some commentators now argue for its elimination. Given broad discretion, prosecutors use burglary to over-punish a wide variety of offenses. The law can even encompass mere instances of shoplifting. Additionally, by punishing perpetrators before they accomplish their target crimes, burglary law often acts as a general law of attempts.

Much of the law’s expansion stems from adding the word “remaining” to many burglary statutes. This inclusion allows burglary convictions in circumstances in which a perpetrator enters a structure legally, but then “remains unlawfully.” While this language has led to confusion among courts and legislatures about the scope of burglary, there is scant legal literature addressing this confusion. Scholars have yet to untangle the conflicting interpretations of unlawful remaining, and legislatures have failed to provide guidance that captures the nuances of burglary law. This Article unravels the complexities of burglary law and proposes a model statute that retains burglary law for its protective purposes, while also considering its problematic expansion.



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