Washington v. Joseph

Petitioner Anthony Joseph was convicted of second degree criminal trespass as a lesser included offense of second degree vehicle prowling. He challenged his conviction on the ground that unlawful entry into a vehicle is not a trespass "in or upon premises of another." This case presented 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 was a "premises" for the purpose of the second degree trespass statute because a vehicle is a type of "building" and "premises" includes "any building." The Washington Supreme Court concluded the legislature plainly intended second degree criminal trespass to encompass trespass into any "building" as defined in the criminal code, RCW 9A.04.110(5), save for trespass into a building in its ordinary sense. This interpretation properly restricts first degree trespass to unlawful entries into ordinary "buildings," a descriptor that needed no further definition. The more severe charge (a gross misdemeanor) was justified by the increased likelihood of trespass into a home or business. All other trespasses fall under the term "premises" and are treated as simple misdemeanors. RCW 9A.52.080. This includes trespasses into premises that are "buildings" broadly conceived, but are not ordinarily thought of as buildings—as relevant here, vehicles. View "Washington v. Joseph" on Justia Law