Wright v. State

Decision Date18 March 1913
Citation77 S.E. 657,12 Ga.App. 514
PartiesWRIGHT et al. v. STATE.
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Syllabus by the Court.

An outhouse in a field between 200 and 300 yards from a mansion or dwelling house, and used by the owner of the mansion or dwelling house as a "smokehouse" or "meathouse" for the storage of his meats for domestic purposes, and not within a common inclosure with the dwelling house, is not an outhouse "contiguous to or within the curtilage or protection of the mansion or dwelling house," and the breaking and entering such an outhouse with intent to steal does not constitute the crime of burglary, but may constitute the offense of larceny from the house.

Error from Superior Court, Coffee County; T. A. Parker, Judge.

Dave Wright and others were convicted of burglary, and bring error. Reversed.

Pottle J., dissenting.

J. W Quincey, C. A. Ward, and W. A. Wood, all of Douglas, for plaintiffs in error.

M. D Dickerson, Sol. Gen., of Douglas, for the State.

HILL C.J.

The plaintiffs in error were convicted of burglary, and their motion for a new trial was overruled. The indictment alleged that the house burglarized was "the smokehouse and meathouse, being a house within the curtilage of the residence of D. S. Wall." The only point of any materiality raised by the record is that the smokehouse was not within the curtilage of the dwelling house. The proof on this point is as follows: "The smokehouse was situated on the edge of the yard. It was only a short distance from the crib and barns. These buildings were all located immediately around our dwelling. The dwelling was burned on the 4th of February, and the meat was taken on the 30th of March thereafter. After we moved away, the barns and smokehouse were not abandoned. We were still using them. We were there every day to look after the stock. After the dwelling was burned, the stable and barns remained where they had been before the dwelling burned. The cattle and stock were kept there. I suppose it was a distance of some 200 or 300 yards from the smokehouse to where we lived. We did not move into that house permanently but temporarily, until we could build up at the same place where the old dwelling burned. Nearly every day the cook would go to the smokehouse and get meat for use in the family. The stock was fed there by the smokehouse, in the stables. The barn was about 50 yards from the smokehouse. I went there two or three times each day to look after the stock. The house we lived in was not in the field where the smokehouse was. It was across a little branch. A little fence cut the smokehouse off from the crib, but they were in the same field. When our house burned, we continued to use the same barns, cribs, and outhouses. When we wanted meat for use, the cook went from the dwelling house to the smokehouse and got it. My wife went over there every day and looked after the chickens and things. The smokehouse was in the edge of the yard. There was a wire fence on the north side of the yard. The fence had been torn down on the south and west side, and then the only inclosure was the field."

Burglary is defined by the Penal Code as "the breaking and entering into the dwelling, mansion, or storehouse, or other place of business of another, where valuable goods, wares produce, or any other articles of value are contained or stored, with intent to commit a felony or larceny. All outhouses contiguous to or within the curtilage or protection of the mansion or dwelling house shall be considered as parts of the same." Penal Code (1910) § 146. This evidence shows the relative positions of the dwelling house, the smokehouse, and the other outhouses on the farm of the prosecutor. The indictment alleges that the smokehouse was within the curtilage of the dwelling house, and the sole question is: Does the proof support this allegation. This will depend upon the true meaning of the word "curtilage," especially as defined by the section of the Code above cited. It has been several times said by learned jurists that it was unfortunate that this term "curtilage," found in the English statutes defining the offense of burglary, and which applies to the dwelling and the houses surrounding the dwelling house in England, should have been perpetuated in the statutes of our different states; for the term is not strictly applicable to the common disposition of inclosures and buildings constituting the homestead of the inhabitants of this country, and particularly of farmers. In England dwellings and outhouses of all kinds are usually surrounded by a fence or stone wall inclosing a small piece of land embracing the yards and outbuildings near the house, constituting what is called the "court," and this constitutes the curtilage of the dwelling house. Jacob, in his Law Dictionary, says that: "Curtilage" is a "courtyard, back side, or piece of ground lying near, and belonging to, a dwelling house." Mr. Bouvier, in his Law Dictionary, defines it to be "a space of ground within a common inclosure, belonging to a dwelling house." Mr. Chitty, in his work on General Practice, 175, in commenting upon the various definitions of the word, uses this language: "In its most comprehensive and proper legal signification it includes all that space of ground and buildings thereon, which is usually inclosed within the general fence, immediately surrounding a principal...

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4 cases
  • Jones v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • June 10, 1913
    ...was within the curtilage of the dwelling house or unless it was alleged and proved to have been a place of business. In Wright v. State, 12 Ga. App. ——, 77 S. E. 657, it was held that burglary could not be committed in a smoke house or meat house situated in a field between 200 and 300 yard......
  • Williamson v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • September 9, 1938
    ...or protection of the mansion or dwelling house" as provided in the Code, § 26-2401. See Bryant v. State, 60 Ga. 358; Wright v. State, 12 Ga.App. 514, 77 S.E. 657; Parks v. State, 22 Ga.App. 621, 96 S.E. 1050; McSwain v. S. & W. Estroff, 34 Ga. App. 183, 129 S.E. 16. 2. In the trial of a cri......
  • Williamson v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • September 9, 1938
    ...or protection of the mansion or dwelling house" as provided in the Code, § 26-2401. See Bryant v. State, 60 Ga. 358; Wright v. State, 12 Ga.App. 514, 77 S.E. 657; Parks v. State, 22 Ga.App. 621, 96 S.E. McSwain v. S. & W. Estroff, 34 Ga.App. 183, 129 S.E. 16. 2. In the trial of a criminal c......
  • Williamson v. State, 24483.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • January 10, 1935
    ...the dwelling house. Under the facts just stated, the defendant's conviction of the offense charged was unauthorized. See Wright v. State, 12 Ga. App. 514, 77 S. E. 657. Judgment reversed. MacINTYRE and GUERRY, JJ., ...

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