The State of Idaho appeals from an order of the district court granting Rubio Alejandro Martinez's motion to dismiss an information charging him with burglary, I.C. § 18-1401, by having aided and abetted the commission of burglary by an accomplice. At issue is whether Martinez's accomplice committed burglary when he reached through an open window of a truck and stole a cassette player from within. We hold that this act did not fall within the statutory definition of burglary, and we therefore affirm the district court's order dismissing the information.
The facts of this case are not in dispute and are drawn from testimony given by the owner of the truck at Martinez's preliminary hearing. Late at night on July 28, 1993, as the owner of the truck was across the street from his parked vehicle, he observed an automobile with three occupants drive slowly down the street, turn around, and park immediately behind his truck. One of the passengers exited the automobile, walked to the truck, reached through an open window and emerged with the truck's pull-out cassette player. The thief quickly returned to the automobile, and he and the other occupants made their escape before the owner of the truck could respond. The truck owner later identified Martinez as the driver of the automobile.
Martinez and the individual who allegedly took the cassette player were arrested and charged with burglary.
Martinez renewed his motion to dismiss before the district court. The district court granted the motion, holding that entry of a "closed vehicle," as used in I.C. § 18-1401, means an entrance into a vehicle that is made by opening an exterior or interior barrier such as by opening or breaking through a closed window or door. Since the thief in this case had not opened any barrier, but had made entry through an already open window, the district court held that no "burglary" had been shown, and the charge against Martinez was dismissed.
On appeal the State argues that the district court's interpretation of the statute is incorrect. The State contends that the term "closed vehicle" refers to the intrinsic character of the vehicle rather than its temporary condition at the time of the illegal entry. According to the State, a vehicle is closed if it has an enclosed passenger compartment or cab, regardless of whether the doors and
The statute in question, I.C. § 18-1401, provides:
The only issue presented by this appeal is the meaning of the term "closed vehicle" within the context of this statute.
This issue of statutory interpretation presents a question of law which we are free to review without deference to the decision of the district court. State v. Martinez, 122 Idaho 158, 161, 832 P.2d 331, 334 (Ct. App.1992); State v. Nelson, 119 Idaho 444, 446, 807 P.2d 1282, 1284 (Ct.App.1991). The focus of a court in construing a statute is to determine and give effect to the intent of the legislature. George W. Watkins Family v. Messenger, 118 Idaho 537, 540, 797 P.2d 1385, 1388 (1990); Carpenter v. Twin Falls County, 107 Idaho 575, 691 P.2d 1190 (1984); Umphrey v. Sprinkel, 106 Idaho 700, 682 P.2d 1247 (1983).
In this case, consideration of the statute's history is helpful in determining the probable legislative intent. The burglary statute was originally enacted as Section 7014 of the Revised Statutes of Idaho Territory (1887), and defined burglary as follows:
In 1963 burglary was redefined with the insertion of the words, "closed vehicle, closed trailer and airplane" into the list of places that may be burgled.
At common law, burglary involved a forced breach of the security of the place entered. This was known as the "breaking" element. Entry through a preexisting opening, such as an open door or window, did not constitute a breaking and therefore was not a burglary. Matthews v. State, 113 Idaho 83, 86, 741 P.2d 370, 373 (Ct.App.1987). 2 Wayne R. LaFave & Austin W. Scott, Jr., SUBSTANTIVE CRIMINAL LAW § 8.13(a) (1986). However, the Idaho Supreme Court long ago held that Idaho's burglary statute modified the common law in that it did not require proof of a breaking. State v. Sullivan, 34 Idaho 68, 76, 199 P. 647, 650 (1921) (interpreting C.S. § 8400, a predecessor to § 18-1401). See also State v. Vanek, 59 Idaho 514, 519, 84 P.2d 567, 569 (1938); State v. Bull, 47 Idaho 336, 276 P. 528 (1929).
It is assumed that when the legislature adopts or amends a statute, it does so with full knowledge of the existing judicial decisions and case law of the state. George W. Watkins Family, 118 Idaho at 540, 797 P.2d at 1388. Accordingly, we assume that at the time of the 1963 amendment the Idaho legislature was fully aware that burglary, as then statutorily defined, did not require a breaking. We are also required to give effect to every word and clause of a statute and may not construe a statute in such a way as to make mere surplusage of any of its provisions. Id.; Hartley v. Miller-Stephan, 107 Idaho 688, 690, 692 P.2d 332, 334 (1984). Therefore, we may not ignore the word "closed" but must assume that the legislature had a purpose when it attached this modifier to the terms "vehicle" and "trailer." We bear in mind also the well-established rule that an ambiguous criminal statute must be strictly construed in favor of the accused. State v. Thompson, 101 Idaho 430, 437, 614 P.2d 970, 977 (1980); State v. Roll, 118 Idaho 936, 939, 801 P.2d 1287, 1290 (Ct.App.1990).
Applying these rules of statutory construction, we conclude that the Idaho legislature
The State relies heavily on this Court's opinion in State v. Martinez, 122 Idaho 158, 832 P.2d 331 (Ct.App.1992), in support of its argument that whether a vehicle is a "closed vehicle" within the meaning of the burglary statute should turn on the character of the vehicle rather than its temporary condition at the time of the entry. In Martinez, this Court applied a "character and use" test in determining that a camper not attached to a truck but instead resting immobile on the ground could be considered a vehicle within the meaning of the burglary statute. The issue resolved in that case was whether under the burglary statute a camper was a "vehicle," not whether it was "closed." We continue to adhere to the determination in Martinez that an object's identity as a vehicle does not change with its temporary condition (for example, whether it is operable or inoperable at the time of entry). We conclude, however, that whether a vehicle is "closed" or open is a matter of a temporary, alterable state turning upon the vehicle's condition at the time of entry, not upon characteristics that hypothetically would make it possible to close the vehicle.
Accordingly, we hold the district court correctly determined that the preliminary hearing evidence did not show probable cause to believe that Martinez participated in a burglary as defined in I.C. § 18-1401. The district court's order dismissing the information that charged Martinez with burglary is affirmed.
WALTERS, C.J., and PERRY, J., concur.