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Puna man receives enhanced felony charge in burglary due to emergency declaration


Ronald Altura

Ronald Altura

A Puna man has been charged with burglary under a state law that provides for enhanced sentencing for certain crimes committed during a state of emergency.

On September 8, a 35-year-old Puna man reported that he returned to his home on 34th Avenue in the Orchidland Estates subdivision and saw a man entering his house through a window and then exiting and fleeing in a van driven by another man.

Investigation by detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section led to the arrest Thursday morning (September 18) of 23-year-old Ronald Altura Jr. of Keaʻau. He was charged Thursday afternoon with burglary of a dwelling during an emergency declaration, which enhances the burglary from a B felony to an A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison with no possibility of probation. His bail was set at $10,000 and he was held at the Hilo police cellblock until his initial court appearance on Friday (September 19).

On September 4, Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed a state of emergency for the Puna District under Act 111 of the 2014 Hawai‘i State Legislature. As a result, the classifications of certain crimes, including burglary, are elevated while the emergency proclamation is in effect.

For example, petty misdemeanor criminal property damage, usually punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, is elevated to a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Other offenses, including theft, robbery and any assault against an emergency worker also face elevated penalties.

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