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badkarma71

Can you be found guilty of a crime if you did not commit a preceding crime?

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I have been charged with burglary and indecent exposure in California.  While I did not commit the crime, I have no alibi witnesses for the time during the commission of the crime, I was passed out drunk while being driven around by two other possible suspects (I do have witnesses who saw the other suspects).  My question is this:  Can I be found guilty of Indecent Exposure, if there is no possible way of getting a guilty verdict for the Burglary charge?  My question is grounded in logic.  If there is no possible way that I broke into that home, then there is no possible way I could have been inside the home to expose myself.

I do not match the physical description of the suspect (I am 170 lbs 5'5", Hispanic, Black Hair Dark Brown eyes), nor was I wearing or do I own any of the clothes worn by the suspect (I was wearing a uniform of red t shirt, black shorts and contact lenses).  The suspect was described as fat or stocky between 5'7"-5'9" between 180-200 lbs, with blonde to medium brown hair and wire rimmed glasses.

Further, there were shoe impressions they took which did not match any shoes I own, and the DNA and fingerprints they lifted did not match me as well.

 

So to reiterate, can I be taken to trial and found guilty for indecent exposure inside a person's home, if they cannot prove at all beyond a reasonable doubt and have no physical evidence to support that I broke into that home?  Thanks!

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The state does not have to prove the burglary offense to win conviction on the indecent exposure charge.

 

A burglary offense in CA requires that the defendant enter one of the listed structures, vehicles or containers with the intent to comment a larceny offense (theft) or intent to commit a felony.

 

Indecent exposure merely requires that the defendant expose “his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby.” Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor offense unless the defendant has been previously convicted of indecent before, in which case it is a felony.

 

Thus, indecent exposure does not require that the defendant “broke into” the home or have any intent to commit larceny or a felony. So, proving a burglary occurred is not a precondition to proving indecent exposure. All the state needs to prove for indecent exposure is that the defendant exposed himself in a public place or in a place where there were others present who would be offended or annoyed. 

 

On the other hand, if the defendant had been previously convicted of indecent exposure so that the crime was a felony, proving that the defendant committed indecent exposure could help the state win a burglarly conviction.

 

You’ve raised issues concerning whether you are properly identified as the person who was seen exposing himself in this particular incident. Certainly that is one avenue you may pursue in defense on the charge. How successful that might be depends on what evidence the state has against you, and of course I don't have that here. This is something you’d want to discuss with a California criminal defense attorney. 

 

I obviously don’t have all the facts of what happpened here, but I’m guessing that the fact that you were “passed out drunk” had a lot to do with it. I see a lot of people get into trouble with crimes like indecent exposure that occur when they are drunk. Drinking causes some people to do stupid things, and is one reason why it’s not a good idea to drink so much that you cannot think clearly. Drinking is no defense to crimes and injuries you commit while drunk.

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Questions like "can you get convicted" are not useful.  If the DA charged you, then there is always the possibility you will be convicted at trial.  As if often told to defendants, there is no guarantee when you put your life in the hands of 12 anonymous strangers whose days have been interrupted by jury duty.  I do want to correct one thing Tax_Counsel said--in CA, voluntary intoxication IS a defense to a burglary.  If a person is black-out drunk then after they unlawfully enter a residence, that intoxication can negate specific intent.  You must have specifically intended  to commit another crime at the time of entering or there is no burglary.  Intent formed after entry will not suffice.  You need an attorney NOW.  If you can't afford counsel, the court will appoint you an attorney. Burglary of a residence is not only a felony but it's a serious felony and a strike offense.  Not something to mess with on your own.

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 can I be taken to trial and found guilty for indecent exposure inside a person's home, if they cannot prove at all beyond a reasonable doubt and have no physical evidence to support that I broke into that home?  Thanks!

 

They can certainly take you to trial.

 

Whether they win a conviction is anybody's guess but they will have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Trouble is, innocent people get convicted all the time.

 

Instead of wasting your time asking hypothetical questions of strangers on the internet I suggest you hire yourself a lawyer.

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Thank you all for your input!  It was actually hugely beneficial.  I actually do have an attorney, but as I am adamant about my innocence, especially in light of the evidence being presented by the prosecution, I feel I have a good chance.  I have witness willing to testify that around 1:45 AM, I was seriously intoxicated but wearing my red polo, black shirts and no glasses, when I entered my vehicle as a passenger to be driven by 2 other unknown persons.  The crime occurred sometime around 3:30am.  I have a witness willing to testify that I was passed out drunk in the morning (8:30am), on top of my bed wearing all of the same clothes. (Suspect wore white shirt, plaid shorts with glasses).  No matching fingerprints, DNA, footprints.  The only thing similar is that we both have a goatee.

The more powerful circumstantial evidence, is that the suspect(s) called people from my phone's contact list on the victim's stolen phone.  However, there are points in the evidence of cell phone data mapping, that show that the phones are separated by as much as 2.9 miles at certain times, thus I could not have been moving with both phones at the same time.

Thanks again.

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What do you mean "2 other unknown persons"?  Are you saying you don't know who you were with?

This was a pretty messed up time in my life.  I was going through a heartbreaking divorce to a woman I had been with for close to 14 years.  Not only was I drinking in excess, but I was also smoking marijuana that evening.  I also worked as a bouncer at club that was on the beach where there are a lot of stoners.  So I probably went with these two random individuals (who the witness states were Brazilian students who were pot heads) to go smoke weed.  I know that being drunk and high is not an excuse.  But I am certain that I did not commit these acts, not just based on what I feel, but also how I interpret the evidence.

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It's not how you interpret the evidence, it's how a jury sees it and those are bad facts.  Juries have a notoriously hard time believing the defendant when their story is, I don't remember but I'm sure I didn't do it.  Where was your phone that these "unknown persons" had access to your contacts list? 

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It's not how you interpret the evidence, it's how a jury sees it and those are bad facts.  Juries have a notoriously hard time believing the defendant when their story is, I don't remember but I'm sure I didn't do it.  Where was your phone that these "unknown persons" had access to your contacts list? 

 

The phone was charging in my car.  The case has yet to go to trial.  We are only at the preliminary phase.  These are the facts.  I was intoxicated.  A witness will testify that they saw me around 1:30 am extremely inebriated and about to go smoke marijuana with 2 strangers.  They will testify that I was too inebriated to drive and entered the passenger side of my vehicle and was driven off.  There is another witness that can testify that I was asleep, still drunk with those same clothes on that morning around 8:30 am.  The maps which were created by the police and not by an expert witness are misleading because while they are labeled Suspect and Victim Phone Locations, what they really show are the cell phone towers which were pinged or connected to by both phones.  I could not have had both phones in my possession if they show that at certain times, the two phones were a great distance apart and moving (up to 2.9 km).  Further, the pinpoints are misleading because they infer that the pinpoints are the exact location of the phone, when in fact given the terrain and power of the towers, they only have a range of half a mile.  Thus the map should show circles or radius, signifying the most likely locations the handsets were in.  Thoughts?

 

Here are the maps: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/69/ub2t.jpg/

 

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/138/gqjc.jpg/

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I do want to correct one thing Tax_Counsel said--in CA, voluntary intoxication IS a defense to a burglary.  If a person is black-out drunk then after they unlawfully enter a residence, that intoxication can negate specific intent. 

 

My comment was not intended to address the specific charges the OP faces but simply noting the more general concept that for most crimes, being drunk isn’t a good defense. I agree my post didn’t make that clear, so I'm glad you pointed out that there are some crimes for which it may be a defense. The key thing I wanted to get across is that getting drunk/high/stoned can lead you to do stupid things, and sometimes those stupid things will get you charged with crimes. Too many people don’t think about that before they start drinking or taking drugs.

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My comment was not intended to address the specific charges the OP faces but simply noting the more general concept that for most crimes, being drunk isn’t a good defense. I agree my post didn’t make that clear, so I'm glad you pointed out that there are some crimes for which it may be a defense. The key thing I wanted to get across is that getting drunk/high/stoned can lead you to do stupid things, and sometimes those stupid things will get you charged with crimes. Too many people don’t think about that before they start drinking or taking drugs.

I completely agree with you and that statement.  It's a part of my life that I am not proud of and I am hoping to move past after this case is resolved.

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The phone was charging in my car.  I could not have had both phones in my possession if they show that at certain times, the two phones were a great distance apart and moving (up to 2.9 km).  

So people you don't know were in your car with you passed out in the backseat.  They got access to your phone and used the victim's phone to dial contacts on your phone and you don't see a problem with that?  Cell signals bounce off towers so it's very possible for two people to be within a block of each other and the tower pings show them more than a half-mile to a mile away from each other.  All the DA has to show is that your phone was in the general vicinity at the time of the burglary especially since you can't account for your own whereabouts or the whereabouts of your phone during that time.   This case is not as simple as you would like to believe it to be.  The identification of you by anyone who was a victim can be challenged at trial but you're a long way from that right now.  You and your attorney will have a better idea of the DA's theory after you sit through the prelim...

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Of course I see problems with that.  I never said I didn't.  What I am trying to say, is that if an expert claims that the cell towers are accurate to within 1/2 mile and the phones are moving  at a distance of 1.8 miles apart, then there is no way they could have been in my possession without discounting the very theory presented by the expert.  If the expert states that it is accurate to within 1/2 mile and it shows clearly that I am close to 2 miles from it, either the theory is flawed and not allowed, or I was not in possession of the phone.  My phone in the general vicinity does not make me the perpetrator without additional evidence.  If that were the case, any individual who was in that general vicinity could be considered a suspect.  The only thing this "evidence" proves, is that my phone was in the area.  It does not show who made the call and my exact location.

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The maps which were created by the police and not by an expert witness are misleading because while they are labeled Suspect and Victim Phone Locations, what they really show are the cell phone towers which were pinged or connected to by both phones.  I could not have had both phones in my possession if they show that at certain times, the two phones were a great distance apart and moving (up to 2.9 km).  

 

If the only information available as to the cell phone locations were the towers to which their signals connected, how are you determining that the phones were apart and moving? If both phones were connected to the same tower at the same time and that's all the information that's available, they certainly could have been together.

 

By the way, if you don’t use a password protected lock screen on your cell phone so that only you can use the phone and access the data on it, this episode is one demonstration of why it's a good idea for you (and everyone else) to take that simple precaution. 

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If the only information available as to the cell phone locations were the towers to which their signals connected, how are you determining that the phones were apart and moving? If both phones were connected to the same tower at the same time and that's all the information that's available, they certainly could have been together.

 

By the way, if you don’t use a password protected lock screen on your cell phone so that only you can use the phone and access the data on it, this episode is one demonstration of why it's a good idea for you (and everyone else) to take that simple precaution. 

Each pinpoint on the map created by the police are a towers connected at different times.  The prosecution's contention is that it shows a path over time of the cell phone.  So it stands to reason that if one cell phone connects to certain towers over time, and there is no overlap with my cell phone in the same time period and within the parameters given by the prosecutions' witness, that they were not in position by a single individual.  I hope I explained that better.

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