Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Neff case brief

State v. Neff case brief summary
11 S.E.2d 171 (1940)

Defendants challenged the decision of the Circuit Court, Nicholas County (West Virginia), which convicted them of burglary for breaking and entering into a chicken house, an outhouse adjoining the dwelling house of the victim, and stealing his chickens.

Defendants were charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime a chicken house, which was an outhouse adjoining the victim's dwelling house, and stealing chickens from the chicken house. Defendants were found guilty of burglary and sentenced to the penitentiary. They appealed their convictions on the ground that they did not violate the plain language of the burglary statute.

  • On appeal, the court reversed the convictions, set aside the verdict, and awarded defendants a new trial. 
  • Since the statute limited the burglary of an outhouse not occupied in connection with the dwelling house to one adjoining it, such contiguity was required to be proven. 
  • The state failed to present sufficient evidence as to the size of the chicken house and its proximity to the victim's dwelling. 
  • The court held that pursuant to the statute, which modified the common law, an outhouse across a public road from its owner's dwelling house was held to be not parcel thereof and not the subject of burglary.

The court reversed defendants' convictions for burglary, set aside the verdict, and awarded them a new trial.

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