Is a Sidewalk That Was Closed to The Public, A “Closed Structure” For the Criminal Charge of Burglary

State v. Richardson

Appellate Docket No.: A-2244-19

Decided August 18, 2021

Submitted by New Jersey New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed whether a sidewalk that was closed to the public was a “closed structure” for the criminal charge of burglary.

In State v. Richardson, On August 8, 2017, Umba and other officers were “patrolling the area of Cooper Village” when defendant and co-defendant, Kevin Short, were observed loading a black cast iron pipe “into the bed of a pickup truck,” which contained numerous similar pipes. Police later determined the pipes were taken “from a pallet on a sidewalk on Morris Avenue.”

The remainder of the grand jury presentation consisted of the following brief exchange:

PROSECUTOR: And was that pallet located in an active construction zone which was closed off to the public?

UMBA: Yes, ma’am.

PROSECUTOR: Was Mr. Richardson taken into custody on the scene there?

UMBA: Yes, ma’am.

PROSECUTOR: And was he taken back to the station and issued Miranda2 [sic]?

UMBA: Yes, ma’am.

PROSECUTOR: After Miranda, [sic] did Mr. Richardson state that Mr. Short had driven him to the construction site where both men loaded ten pieces of cast iron piping into the pickup truck?

UMBA: Yes, ma’am.

PROSECUTOR: And did he indicate that neither one of them really had permission to do that from the construction site?

UMBA: Yes.

Defendant moved to dismiss the one-count indictment for third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2(a)(1).  The motion was dismissed and defendant entered to a guilty plea as charged, allowing him to appeal the denial.

Defendant appealed, and the Appellate Division reversed, finding that there was no evidence presented to the grand jury to determine if the area was closed and secured from the public, as required by the statute and case law. The Appellate Division reversed and remanded for another grand jury proceeding.

In order for the State to proceed on an indictable offense in New Jersey, the defendant need to be indicted by a grand jury. At grand jury, the state presents evidence outside the presence of the defendant and the grand jury decides whether there is a prima facie case of each of the elements of the criminal charges for the case to proceed.  If this low standard has not been met, the case should be dismissed at that point, as outlined above..

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.


We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including Bass River, Beverly, Bordentown City, Bordentown Township, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Chesterfield, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Eastampton, Edgewater Park, Evesham, Fieldsboro, Florence, Hainesport, Lumberton, Mansfield, Maple Shade, Medford Lakes, Medford Township, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, New Hanover, North Hanover, Palmyra, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, Riverside, Riverton, Shamong, Southampton, Springfield, Tabernacle, Washington Township, Westampton, Willingboro, Woodland Township, and Wrightstown.



Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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