I’ve noticed that the phrase “home invasion” seems to turn up more and more in news reports. I did a search of some Missouri newspapers looking for the term “home invasion,” and–sure enough–”home invasion” seems to have arrived in Missouri. Before the year 2000, it was seldom used in Missouri news reports, referring mostly to crimes in other states. But now, Missouri “home invasions” are on the radio, TV and newspapers every day.
The media is in love with the term “home invasion.” It’s hot. It’s scary. The word “invasion” is always terrifying. I’m thinking viruses, or Nazis; or maybe even Martians.
Combining “invasion” with “home” is a natural. Somebody probably has a copyright on it. Law enforcement loves to use the phrase. When I was a prosecutor, I had police tell me that if I wouldn’t file a burglary charge, then “at least I could file it as a home invasion.”
From all the publicity, one might guess that the crime of home invasion was on the rise. Or perhaps the legislature has recently created a crime called “home invasion.” One could not be faulted for thinking that Missouri had a crime called “Home Invasion.” But one would be wrong.
In some states they have one crime called “Breaking and entering,” which refers to non-dwelling structures. Then they’ll have a second crime called “Home invasion,” which refers to breaking into dwellings. In Missouri, both of these crimes are covered by the crime of burglary.
The 2008 legislative session will soon be upon us and maybe we should consider punching up our old criminal code and drag it into the 21st century. “Home invasion” is splashy and sexy. “Burglary” sounds like something your parents would have done (or had done to them). So maybe this is the year Missouri gets home invasion onto the books.
Editor’s Note: Randy England wrote this post. Randy is a criminal defense attorney and former Missouri prosecutor from Jefferson City. He blogs about the Missouri justice system: defendants, cops, prosecutors, courts, the legislature, and defense lawyers. This article — along with many more — can be found “>here.
Randy’s blog is worth reading: straight-forward, no-nonsense information delivered with humor and experience. Home Invasion News is honored that Randy shared his blog with us. He is a 1990 graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law and former Managing Editor of the Missouri Law Review, which explains his fresh, consummable writing style. In addition to legal writing, he is in progress on his second novel (and third book). Click here for Randy’s law practice website.
Home Invasion News is always on the look-out for folks with first-hand knowledge as to how “home invasion” manifests in “the system.” We agree with Randy’s take on the overuse of a term that implies considerably more than “burglary” and it’s great to hear it from an expert. In the comments section of the blog that Randy England shared here with us, Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Bennett also shared his thoughts about home invasion.
I think of a “home invasion” as a blatant burglary when the homeowner is present; down here, the phrase is usually used in conjunction with the word “robbery.” When you hear about a home-invasion robbery, it’s a safe bet that the home invaders thought they were going to find drugs in the home — unlike just about anything else a person might have in his home, drugs pack lots of value into a small package, and are rarely left unattended to be stolen in a simple burglary.
p.s. Mark also blogs. Check it out.