Bay Area Man Acquitted of Breaking & Entering in His Shared Home (CA Penal Code §459)

Everyone can agree that 31-year-old Christopher Hall had a bad couple of weeks.  At first, everything seemed like a Bay area love story.  Hall met a 34-year-old woman at a hacky-sack circle and, two weeks later, the two were making plans to get married.   After a month or so, in March of 2013, Hall decided to break off the engagement, grabbed a few of his things from their shared home, and went off to Mclaren Park with plans to spend the night in a tree.  Later in the evening, Hall became too cold to remain in the tree and headed back home, deciding not to disturb his recently estranged fiancée, but instead to camp out in the backyard under a makeshift tent.

Unfortunately, Hall’s ex-fiancée had gone out to the movies with a new friend – a highly trained Marine.  When they returned from their night out, they heard Hall making noises in the backyard and assumed it was an intruder. Armed with household items like a kitchen knife and a frying pan, they went out to investigate.  Upon seeing the pair walking toward him with these weapons, Hall began to yell and chased them to the back door, where his fiancée slammed the glass-paned entrance in his face – his hand went through a pane.  From there, a short scuffle with the Marine occurred, with Hall in a headlock and the ex-fiancée running to get a neighbor, who was armed with a can of bear repellent.  The neighbor, having been told that Hall was trying to murder the Marine, sprayed Hall and the authorities were called.

Hall was acquitted of the charges against him, mainly because they were unsubstantiated claims.  A person cannot be found guilty of “breaking and entering” (in California law, this is actually a charge of “burglary,” pursuant to CA Penal Code §45 when they happen to live in the building in question. Furthermore, Hall could prove that he had not only paid rent toward the house, but had also made some improvements to the structure.  In this case, Hall was convicted of only a simple misdemeanor count of vandalism and, hopefully, learned a more important lesson about relationships from the whole affair. If convicted of the burglary charges, he could have faced up to 7 years in state prison.