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Crimes and felonies are not always obvious, which is why, in some cases, they may be difficult to identify. Sometimes a dilemma arises whether to consider an act to be unlawful. The fight between Taylor and Garrett is one of such cases, and it requires further examination within the framework of current legislation. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the actions of Taylor and Garret in terms of such felonies as breaking and entering, burglary, and battery.
Taylor and Garrett were students who lived in apartments on the same floor of a building. As Taylor was studying for classes, she was disturbed by Garrett’s loud music. Having put up with the inconvenience for several hours, she decided to talk to her neighbor. Once Garrett opened the door, he returned inside, as he could not hear anything over the loud music and wanted to turn it down. Taylor did not wait for him to appear again and entered his apartment without permission. Aggravated by trespassing, Garrett asked her to exit, but Taylor applied physical violence, which led to the former’s substantial injuries.
The described situation poses several issues within the legal framework, as far as Taylor’s actions are concerned. Allegedly, the woman felt exhausted, as she had been studying past midnight. It is possible to assume that she stayed due to an important upcoming assignment or an exam which might explain her nervousness.
At the same time, Garrett demonstrated disrespect toward other tenants of the building, violating the law regulating community noise levels at night. Nevertheless, while Taylor’s actions may be justified from an ethical point of view, she entered another individual’s property without consent and applied physical violence leading to injuries. Therefore, an issue arises whether her actions can be considered burglary, breaking and entering, or battery.
The terms “burglary” and “breaking and entering” often go together in the United States legislation. However, according to Thiel, two notions’ interchangeability is an anachronism preserved by eleven states (214). Nowadays, burglary implies the fact of entering the property with the intention of committing a crime inside, whereas breaking is not a necessary condition in this case.
Simultaneously, the United States Model Penal Code refers to the battery as “assault” and distinguishes two particular types of it: “simple” and “aggravated” (126). The primary difference between these categories lies in the degree of injuries suffered by the victim. In other words, the aggravated battery requires that the injuries be substantial as opposed to a simple assault.
As for Taylor and Garrett, one may assume that the former did not intend to harm the latter upon entering the apartment, which is a crucial part of the definition of burglary. Most states separate this felony from the notion of breaking and entering. Moreover, Taylor did not use physical force to gain access to Garrett’s apartment.
However, Thiel writes that the concept of breaking and entering includes non-physical options as well, including “the opening of an unlocked window or door,” fraud, and deception (213). Following this definition, Taylor’s actions can be characterized as breaking and entering.
Furthermore, she physically assaulted Garrett, causing substantial injuries, even though it may have happened in the heat of the moment. Section 211.1 of the U.S. Model Penal Code calls “attempts to cause serious bodily injury” an aggravated assault when committed both “knowingly” and “recklessly” (126). Therefore, Taylor may be charged with breaking and entering along with battery if Garrett’s medical examination confirms his substantial injuries.
All in all, the case in question serves as an excellent example of different views on particular felonies. While Taylor did not physically break into Garrett’s apartment, her actions may be seen as breaking and entering per local legislation. In addition, while she did not mean to cause her neighbor’s injuries and acted recklessly, the U.S. Model Penal Code still sees such cases as aggravated assault and battery. Overall, even though Garrett exhibited disrespect to the rest of the building, Taylor did not have legal rights to trespass and apply physical violence.
Model Penal Code: Official Draft and Explanatory Notes: Complete Text of Model Penal Code as Adopted at the 1962 Annual Meeting of the American Law Institute at Washington, D.C., 1962. The American Law Institute, 1985.
Thiel, Keri Rezac. “Entering a Building Without Going Inside: The Implications of State v. Holt for Breaking and Entering Cases in New Mexico.” New Mexico Law Review, vol. 48, no. 1, 2017, pp. 209-231.