San Francisco International Airport: Woman Caught for Third Time Attempting to Stow Away on Plane (CA Penal Code 459)

San Francisco International Airport is a busy hub of activity.  At first, no one noticed the sweet, grandmotherly woman who managed to board an airplane bound for Hawaii in February of this year.  The problem?  She didn’t have a ticket.  She tried to board another plane 3 days later, but was caught by authorities and told never to return.  A court order solidified the airport’s position.  Still, 62-year-old (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) tried a third time to board a plane without a ticket and was finally arrested on the scene.

Some might argue that this elderly woman is simply confused.  She told airport officials that she is ill with cancer and was trying to travel to warmer climates.  No one knows whether her story is true.   What we do know is that she pled no contest to 2 counts of misdemeanor commercial burglary for the price of the plane ticket.

California burglary laws are set forth in (CA Penal Code 459).  Technically, what she did could be considered ‘breaking and entering’ as she boarded a plane without having paid for that privilege.  Another example of a ‘burglary’ crime of this nature would be walking into a bank and cashing a check that you already know is bad.  In other words, you don’t have to actually break into a place of business in order to be charged with burglary.  In California, commercial burglary is also known as second degree burglary.  Here, ‘commercial’ means anywhere that is not a residence, like a business or store.  This crime may be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or as a felony (a ‘wobbler’).  A conviction for second degree misdemeanor burglary means the possibility of 1 year maximum in county jail; a felony conviction could mean up to 3 years in state prison.  Certainly, investigations will be made into her mental state before sentencing.


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