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2008-UP-602 - State v. Montgomery

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Laurtrent M. Montgomery, Appellant.


Appeal from Lancaster County
 Brooks P. Goldsmith, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-602
Submitted September 1, 2008 – Filed November 3, 2008


AFFIRMED


Katherine H. Hudgins, Appellate Defender, South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Attorney General Harold M. Coombs, Jr., Office of the Attorney General, of Columbia for Respondent; and Solicitor Douglas A. Barfield, Jr., of Lancaster, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Laurtrent M. Montgomery appeals his conviction for second-degree burglary, arguing the trial court erred in failing to dismiss the charge on double jeopardy grounds.  We affirm.[1]

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Montgomery was accused of breaking and entering into a home and an adjacent shed located nearby on the same property.  He was charged with first-degree burglary for entering the house and second-degree burglary for entering the shed.  At trial, Montgomery moved to have the second-degree burglary charge dismissed arguing the double jeopardy clause prevented him from receiving multiple punishments for the same offense.  Montgomery contended that under section 16-11-10 of the South Carolina Code (2003), the house and the shed constituted “one parcel.”  Therefore, he argued he should only be charged with the single charge of first-degree burglary.  The trial court denied the motion.  This appeal followed.

LAW/ANALYSIS

Montgomery argues that under section 16-11-10 of the South Carolina Code (2003), the house and the shed constituted “one parcel.”  Therefore, the act of breaking into the house and the shed constituted one offense.  Under the theory of double jeopardy, he could not be given multiple punishments for one offense.  We disagree. 

Section 16-11-10 provides:

With respect to the crimes of burglary and arson and to all criminal offenses which are constituted or aggravated by being committed in a dwelling house, any house, outhouse, apartment, building, erection, shed or box in which there sleeps a proprietor, tenant, watchman, clerk, laborer or person who lodges there with a view to the protection of property shall be deemed a dwelling house, and of such a dwelling house or of any other dwelling house all houses, outhouses, buildings, sheds and erections which are within two hundred yards of it and are appurtenant to it or to the same establishment of which it is an appurtenance shall be deemed parcels.

To adopt Montgomery’s interpretation of the statute strains the bounds of reasonableness.  The statute does not indicate that a dwelling house and a shed or other appurtenance constitute one unit with regard to the crime of burglary.  The statue merely indicates that such appurtenances are considered dwellings in the same manner that a house is considered a dwelling.  Therefore, if a defendant is accused of breaking into such a structure, he can be charged with breaking into a dwelling.

State v. Evans, 18 S.C. 137 (1882), discussed the former version of this statute which made appurtenant structures “dwellings.”  The supreme court stated that the “statute was intended to enlarge the field within which burglary could be committed.”  Id.  That seems to be the consistent purpose of treating sheds, garages, porches and other appurtenant structures as dwellings.  There is no indication in the current statute to suggest the legislature meant to somehow contract the field within which burglary may be committed by making nearby structures and homes one indivisible unit.

   Furthermore, section 16-11-310 of the South Carolina Code (2003) states that “[w]here a building consists of two or more units separately occupied or secured, each unit is deemed both a separate building in itself and a part of the main building.”  Under this statute, a single building can be the site of multiple burglaries provided there are separately secured units within the building.  If that is the case, it would be illogical to assume section 16-11-10 intended to make two free-standing, separately-secured structures a single building for purposes of the burglary statute.

Based on all of the foregoing, the ruling of the trial court is

AFFIRMED.

Anderson, Williams, and Konduros, JJ., concur.


[1] This case was decided without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.