My brother was running from a group of people who wanted to cause him bodily harm so he hid in a garage now he is arrested for burglary. Is there a law in California for people who seek safty from bodily harm that hide on or in someone's property?
3 Answers from Attorneys
Does your brother know who was chasing him? Were there any witnesses? If he was just hiding, and can convince the DA that that was the case, I can't see a burglary charge sticking. However, if he can't do that, and/or he was caught with any item, then he may have problems, which would be a trespass at the very least.
People who are in imminent danger of harm can take steps that are reasonably necessary to protect themselves, including entering someone else's property without permission. (They are financially responsible for any damage they cause in the process, but that is a civil matter and not criminal.)
But the burglary charge means the prosecutor does not believe your brother was just trying to protect himself. Part of the definition of burglary is that the defendant entered the premises with the intent to commit a felony inside. That's a very different motivation from the one you described.
Necessity is a defense to charges of trespass or of breaking and entering ("B&E"), but not of burglary. It can excuse someone from merely entering property without the owner's permission, but not from entering with the intent to commit a felony.
If your brother's story is true then he didn't commit burglary and instead committed an excusable B&E or trespass. In other words, he's innocent. But the prosecutor clearly believes in a different version of events. If she can persuade a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, then your brother will be convicted. He needs competent defense counsel asap.
I agree with Mr. Hoffman, in that the issue here is why he was on the property. The prosecutor must prove that he entered the property with the intent to commit a felony. There are all sorts of ways to do this.
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