Submitted on Briefs: July 25, 2018
District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District, In and For
the County of Flathead, Cause No. DC 16-217(C) Honorable
Heidi Ulbricht, Presiding Judge.
Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Deborah S. Smith,
Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Katie F.
Schulz, Helena, Montana
Corrigan, Flathead County Attorney, Renn C. Fairchild, Deputy
County Attorney, Kalispell, Montana
Pursuant to Section I, Paragraph 3(c), Montana Supreme Court
Internal Operating Rules, this case is decided by memorandum
opinion and shall not be cited and does not serve as
precedent. Its case title, cause number, and disposition
shall be included in this Court's quarterly list of
noncitable cases published in the Pacific Reporter and
Justin Daniel Steinhorst appeals from an order of the
Eleventh Judicial District Court, Flathead County, affirming
his conviction for criminal trespass. We affirm.
The State charged Steinhorst with criminal mischief and
criminal trespass in Flathead County Justice Court based on a
report Flathead County Sheriff's Office received. The
report complained Steinhorst trespassed by sleeping in a
storage closet at the La Quinta Inn and Suites (Hotel), using
the Hotel's bedding, and urinating into an ice bucket.
The officer investigating the report contacted Steinhorst and
Steinhorst admitted to being on the Hotel's premises as a
non-paying guest. The Justice Court held a bench trial.
Steinhorst did not appear. The officer testified as the
State's only witness. Steinhorst's counsel moved to
dismiss the charges, arguing the State did not establish
Steinhorst was not invited to sleep in the Hotel's
storage closet. The Justice Court orally pronounced
Steinhorst guilty of criminal trespass and dismissed the
criminal mischief charge. The Justice Court's written
judgment did not conform to its oral pronouncement,
incorrectly indicating Steinhorst was guilty of criminal
mischief and that the criminal trespass charge was dismissed.
The District Court affirmed Steinhorst's trespass
conviction, concluding the evidence supported a finding
Steinhorst was not invited to sleep in the Hotel's
storage closet and stating, "A motel's utility
closet is normally used for the private purposes of the motel
and is not within the scope of a motel's business
invitation to its intended customers." Further, the
District Court commented Steinhorst's argument that he
was invited to stay in the Hotel's closet "requires
both that the motel deviated from its ordinary course of
business by providing a utility closet as a room to an
unpaying guest and that the motel ignored laws governing
motel's sanitary facilities by allowing [Steinhorst] to
use a bucket for his urine." The District Court noted
the Justice Court could correct its factually incorrect
written judgment under § 46-18-116, MCA, and concluded
it was not an appellate issue.
On appeal, Steinhorst argues there was insufficient evidence
to support his criminal trespass conviction. We review the
sufficiency of evidence supporting a conviction by viewing
the evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution and
determining whether any rational trier of fact could have
found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt. State v. Stevens, 2002 MT 181, ¶ 23, 311
Mont. 52, 53 P.3d 356. We recognize criminal trespass to
property as having three essential elements: (1) a person
knowingly; (2) enters or remains unlawfully in; (3) an
occupied structure or the premises of another. State v.
Robertson, 2014 MT 279, ¶ 19, 376 Mont. 471, 336
P.3d 367; Section 45-6-203, MCA. Steinhorst argues the State
failed to prove the second element- he was not invited to
stay in the Hotel's storage closet. Steinhorst suggests
the State should have presented testimony from the
Hotel's owner or an authorized employee to establish he
was not invited.
Instead of the testimony Steinhorst suggests, the Justice
Court found Steinhorst guilty based on the fact that someone
contacted the Flathead County Sheriff's Office
complaining a trespasser was sleeping in the Hotel's
storage closet, using its bedding, and urinating into an ice
bucket. The State admitted a photograph of the closet,
bedding, and bucket. The officer investigating the report
testified he contacted Steinhorst and Steinhorst admitted he
was the person the report complained of, but also suggested
he was an invited, although non-paying, guest.
Steinhorst's suggestion he was invited to stay in the
hotel's closet as a non-paying guest is not credible
because hotels do not commonly invite non-paying guests to
stay in storage closets; storage closets are not commonly
used to house invited guests; and hotels are obligated to
provide sanitary facilities, they do not allow invited guests
to urinate in food storage containers. Based on the evidence
presented, a rational trier of fact could have concluded
Steinhorst either entered or remained unlawfully because he
was not invited to stay in the hotel's storage closet.
Therefore, the District Court relied on sufficient evidence
to support Steinhorst's criminal trespass conviction.
Steinhorst also urges this Court to remand this proceeding
and instruct the Justice Court to conform its written order
with its oral pronouncement. Remanding a proceeding with
instructions to correct a sentence is an appropriate remedy
where this Court determines the sentence imposed was illegal.
See State v. Lambert, 2010 MT 287, ¶ 14, 359
Mont. 8, 248 P.3d 295. Here, however, Steinhorst does not
argue his sentence was illegal, only that the written
judgment was factually incorrect. "The court may correct
a factually erroneous . . . judgment at any time."
Section 46-18-116(3), MCA. The Justice Court may correct
Steinhorst's factually incorrect written judgment without
our needing to remand the proceeding.
We have determined to decide this case pursuant to Section I,
Paragraph 3(c) of our Internal Operating Rules, which
provides for memorandum opinions. This appeal presents no
constitutional issues, no issues of first impression, ...