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11.5: End-of-Chapter Material

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    Property crimes frequently result in serious loss and monetary harm to victims, and as a category, include serious offenses like burglary, theft, arson, trespass, and criminal mischief (vandalism). Property is broadly defined to include real property (land), personal property (both tangible and intangible property), and personal services.

    Alaska has abandoned the common law categorization of theft crimes (e.g., larceny, embezzlement, and false pretenses) and instead adopted a consolidated theft statute. Theft is now graded into four degrees, largely dependent on the property stolen or its value. Under Alaska’s consolidated theft statutes, theft may be committed in one of six ways. Theft is a specific intent crime. Normally, to commit the crime of theft, the perpetrator must obtain “property of another” with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Thus, borrowing property with the intent to return it later may not constitute theft under the general theft statute. A thief commits theft if they exercise unauthorized control over another person’s property (if they also have the intent to permanently deprive). For this reason, a person may be guilty of shoplifting even if they do not leave the store. The code also includes various theft-type offenses that have been separated under the code, including vehicle theft, forgery, and scheme to defraud. Each offense contains unique elements that separate it from general theft.

    Burglary, similar to arson, is a crime against habitation and is designed to protect property owners. At common law, burglary was limited to breaking and entering into another’s dwelling at nighttime with the intent to commit a felony therein. Alaska has expanded this definition, but some aspects of the common law remain. Burglary always requires an unprivileged entry into a structure and an intent to commit a crime therein. The general burglary statute (second-degree burglary) is the unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit a crime inside the building. Aggravated burglary (first-degree burglary) occurs when the defendant is armed with a weapon, breaks into a dwelling, or injures an occupant while inside. Aggravated burglary is a class B felony offense punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. General burglary is a lower-level felony (a class C felony).

    Arson is the burning or damaging of property by fire. Alaska grades arson into three degrees. First-degree arson, the most serious, is the intentional setting of a fire or causing an explosion that places someone in danger of serious injury. This includes first-responders like firefighters or police officers. Criminal mischief, more commonly known as vandalism, is damaging, destroying, or interfering with another person’s property. Criminal Mischief may also include acts of terrorism if a person intentionally damages property by “widely dangerous means”, which means a difficult-to-confide force. All criminal mischief statutes require the defendant to damage another person’s property. Damage is measured from the property owner’s perspective, not the defendant’s perspective.

    Answers to “You be the Judge” Exercises

    From “You be the Judge” in Vehicle Theft:

    1. In this case, Brockman had permission to drive the truck off the lot. To be guilty of first-degree vehicle theft, the initial taking of the vehicle must be trespassory. If a person obtains permission to take property fraudulently commits a trespassory taking. Therefore, to prove that Brockman committed vehicle theft in the first degree, the State had to prove that Brockman’s initial taking of the vehicle was accomplished by fraud – that is, that Brockman fraudulently obtained the salesperson’s permission to take the truck. If the jury believed that Brockman falsely represented to the salesperson that he was going to take the truck for a short test drive when he actually intended to use the truck for a substantially longer period of time he was guilty of first-degree vehicle theft (as opposed to second-degree vehicle theft). For more information see Brockman v. State, 2009 WL 692122 (Alaska App. 2009). You can access the opinion using Westlaw Campus Research through the Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage using your UA credentials.

    From “You be the Judge” in Burglary:

    1. Dan is not guilty of second-degree burglary. In See Arabie v. State, 699 P.2d 890 (Alaska 1985), the court held that a person who enters a building open to the public and then proceeds to an area inside the building which, though restricted, is not a “separate building”, is not guilty of second-degree burglary since the person did not “enter or remain unlawfully” inside a building for purposes of the second-degree burglary statute. The purpose of the rule is to bring the clause “open to the public” closer to the common law interpretation of burglary. When a person enters property by lawful means, he is only criminally liable for the acts he thereafter commits on the property. However, if a person exceeds the privilege to enter – by remaining in a store after it closed with the intent to commit a theft – would be burglary. Here, Dan entered lawfully. Dan committed a criminal trespass and a theft, but not a burglary.

    This page titled 11.5: End-of-Chapter Material is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Rob Henderson via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.