People v. Johnson

Decision Date27 September 1963
Docket NumberNo. 36889,36889
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Defendant in Error, v. Kenneth H. JOHNSON, Plaintiff in Error.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

Reidy, Katz, McAndrews, Durkee & Telleen, Rock Island, for plaintiff in error.

William G. Clark, Atty. Gen., Springfield and Richard Stengel, State's Atty., Rock Island (Fred G. Leach and E. Michael O'Brien, Asst. Attys. Gen., and Robert L. Ellison, Asst. State's Atty., of counsel), for defendant in error.

SCHAFER, Justice.

A jury in the circuit court of Rock Island County found the defendant, Kenneth H. Johnson, guilty of the crime of burglary, and he was sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of not less than two nor more than ten years. He brings this writ of error to review his conviction, asserting first, that the evidence did not establish his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and second, that the court erred in giving certain instructions to the jury.

The record shows that the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Van Poecke is located close to a tavern in Rock Island. About 3:00 A.M. on March 31, 1961, they were awakened by their dog. Mr. Van Poecke looked out and saw two men in the vicinity of the tavern. Mrs. Van Poecke telephoned the police. She heard glass breaking and her husband saw a man enter the tavern through the door where the glass was broken. When the police arrived the defendant jumped out of the doorway, swinging a lug wrench wrapped in cloth at one of the police officers. He was subdued and placed under arrest. The owner of the tavern testified that apart from broken glass and debris, he found nothing unusual about the premises after the defendant was arrested, and that he was 'almost sure there was no merchandise missing.' The defendant did not testify.

The statute under which the defendant was convicted provides that 'Whoever willfully and maliciously and forcibly breaks and enters * * * any * * * building, with intent to commit murder, robbery, rape, mayhem, or other felony or larceny' is guilty of burglary. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1961, chap. 38, par. 84.) The indictment charged the defendant with breaking and entering the tavern with intent 'to take and carry away the personal goods, chattels, money and property' of the owner of the tavern. The defendant's primary contention is that the proof does not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he entered the premises with intent to commit larceny.

He emphasizes that intent is an essential element of the prosecution's case which, like any other essential element, must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and he relies heavily upon our decision in People v. Soznowski, 22 Ill.2d 540, 177 N.E.2d 146, 148. There the defendant was charged both with burglary and with assault with intent to commit rape. The evidence showed that a woman was awakened at 3 A.M. in her bedroom by the defendant who was beating her on the face. She screamed and her assailant ran out the door. He was pursued and apprehended at once. Upon a trial before the court he was found not guilty of assault with intent to commit rape, but was found guilty of burglary. This court reversed that judgment upon the ground that intent to commit larceny was not established because the conduct of the defendant in beating the sleeping woman dispelled any inference of intent to commit larceny that might otherwise have arisen. The opinion stated (22 Ill.2d p. 545, 177 N.E.2d p. 148): 'It is unnecessary for the decision in this case to determine whether or not under certain circumstances an unlawful entry without any further overt act on the part of the defendant is sufficient to warrant an inference of an intent to commit larceny.'

While there are decisions in which this court appears to have assumed that intent to commit larceny may be inferred from a breaking and entry, otherwise unexplained, (see, e. g., People v. Hansen, 5 Ill.2d 535, 126 N.E.2d 243; People v. Urbana, 18 Ill.2d 81, 163 N.E.2d 511) we have been referred to no decision of this court that has squarely passed upon the issue left open in the Soznowski case, and now raised by the defendant.

Intent must ordinarily be proved circumstantially, by inferences drawn from conduct appraised in its factual environment. We are of the opinion that in the absence of inconsistent circumstances, proof of unlawful breaking and entry into a building which contains personal property that could be the subject of larceny gives rise to an inference that will sustain a conviction of burglary. Like other inferences, this one is grounded in human experience, which justifies the assumption that the unlawful entry was not purposeless, and, in the...

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111 cases
  • State v. Little
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • December 18, 1984
    ...actual larceny does not bar a conviction for burglary. State v. Benton, supra, 161 Conn. at 411, 288 A.2d 411; see People v. Johnson, 28 Ill.2d 441, 443, 192 N.E.2d 864 (1963); 12A C.J.S., Burglary § 42. The larceny, if committed, is a separate and distinct offense. State v. Benton, supra; ......
  • United States v. Melton
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • September 26, 1973
    ...473 P.2d 169 (1970); Dixon v. State, 240 So.2d 289 (Miss.1970); State v. Wills, 107 N.H. 107, 218 A.2d 47 (1966); People v. Johnson, 28 Ill.2d 441, 192 N.E.2d 864 (1963); Behel v. State, 40 Ala.App. 689, 122 So.2d 537 (1960); Garrett v. State, 350 P.2d 983 (Okl.Cr.1960); Sikes v. State, 166......
  • State v. Fields, 10978
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • July 8, 1993
    ...larceny does not bar a conviction for burglary. State v. Benton, 161 Conn. 404, 411, 288 A.2d 411 (1971); see People v. Johnson, 28 Ill.2d 441, 443, 192 N.E.2d 864 (1963); 12A C.J.S., Burglary § 42. The larceny, if committed, is a separate and distinct offense. State v. Benton, supra; Wilso......
  • People v. Coleman
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 7, 1990
    ...breaking and entering into a building when it contains personal property that could be the subject of larceny. (People v. Johnson (1963), 28 Ill.2d 441, 192 N.E.2d 864.) The defendant argues that his act of entering the bedroom with Frederica rather than the living room or dining room was i......
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