Burglary and Criminal Trespass in New York

by ECL Writer
Burglary In The Third Degree

In New York, committing burglary or criminal trespass can result in heavy jail time and expensive fines. It is illegal in New York, as it is in every state, to enter a building or land that belongs to another person without their permission. Trespassing or burglary charges may be brought against such conduct (by entering a building with the intent to commit a crime) (by going onto property without permission). Some burglaries, including those committed with weapons or against residences, may carry particularly harsh penalties. In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about burglary and criminal trespass in New York State.

Burglary and Criminal Trespass in New York

Burglary and criminal trespass are two separate crimes in New York state, both of which involve unauthorized entry into a property. Burglary involves the intent to commit a crime once inside, while criminal trespass does not require such intent.

Burglary in the third degree, the least serious form, is a class D felony and is defined as unlawfully entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary in the second degree, a class C felony, involves the use of explosives or deadly weapons. Burglary in the first degree, the most serious form, is a class B felony and involves entering a dwelling at night with the intent to commit a crime.

Criminal trespass, on the other hand, is a class B misdemeanor and involves knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building or on someone else’s property. It can also involve entering or remaining in a building after being told to leave by the owner or lawful occupant.

Penalties for burglary can range from probation to several years in prison, while criminal trespass is typically punishable by a fine or a short-term jail sentence. Both crimes can have serious consequences, including a criminal record and difficulty finding employment or housing in the future.

Burglary and criminal trespass share some common legal definitions, including the terms “building” and “dwelling.”

  • Building: Any structure, vehicle, or boat used for conducting business, housing overnight guests, or serving as a primary or secondary school is referred to as a building, as does any enclosed truck or trailer.
  • Dwelling: A dwelling includes any building which is usually occupied by a person who lodges there at night. “Usually occupied” means the structure is adapted for occupancy and, on the date of the unlawful entry, an occupant could have been present. A dwelling doesn’t need to be a full-time residence—the following structures are also considered dwellings: vacation homes, hotels, hospitals, attached garages, and hallways in apartment buildings (where entrances are locked and restricted to residents).

Types Of Burglary In New York

Burglary was previously described as breaking into a house at night with the intention of committing a crime there. Today, the majority of states have eliminated these stringent standards.

Burglary Elements in New York

A person violates New York’s laws when they enter or remain within a building without permission with the intention of committing any crime (felony or misdemeanor) there. Let’s look at these components in more detail.

  • Enter or remain unlawfully. An offender enters or remains unlawfully if they are not licensed to be there or an authorized user did not give permission for their immediate or continued presence. An unlawful entry also includes a defendant’s use of intimidation or deception to gain access.
  • Intent to commit a crime. In order for a defendant to commit burglary, the defendant must have formed the intent to commit an offense at the time of entry into the building. A burglary occurs as soon as the offender enters the structure with the illicit intent, even if the intended crime or offense never occurs.

(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 140.00, 140.20 (2020).)

Burglary Penalties in New York

In New York, there are three types of burglary offenses. When a home is involved in a crime or there is a significant risk of victim harm, harsher punishments are applied.

Third-Degree Burglary

A person who intentionally enters or remains illegally within a building with the intent to commit a crime there is guilty of burglary in the third degree. A class D felony, such an offense carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a fine of $5,000 or double the amount of the offender’s gain from the crime (which is the same fine-related penalty for all levels of burglary).

Second-Degree Burglary

When someone enters or stays in a house without permission and has the intention of committing a crime, they are guilty of second-degree burglary. When a building is involved in the crime and either the perpetrator or a co-conspirator does any of the following, second-degree burglary charges also apply:

  • possess an explosive or deadly weapon
  • cause physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime
  • use or threaten the immediate use of a dangerous instrument, or
  • display what appears to be some type of gun or another firearm.

A person who commits a second-degree burglary commits a class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

First-Degree Burglary

A defendant who enters or remains illegally within a home with the intention of committing a crime inside does one of the following, in addition to burglary in the first degree:

  • being armed with an explosive or a deadly weapon
  • causing physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime
  • using or threatening the immediate use of a dangerous instrument, or
  • displaying what appears to be some type of gun or another firearm.

The law classifies this crime as a class B felony, which carries up to 25 years in prison and a fine.

Possession of Burglar’s Tools

Possession of any tool or piece of equipment that is customized, designed, or frequently used to perpetrate theft or a forced entry qualifies as the crime of possessing burglar’s tools. The majority of equipment that can be used in theft or burglary, like screwdrivers, bolt cutters, and lock picks, also have useful purposes. The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant intended to use the instrument to commit or assist in a theft or forceful entry in order to establish possession as a crime. A class A misdemeanor, such an offense is punished by up to 364 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Also Read: NEW YORK CRIMINAL STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Criminal Trespass in New York: Crime and Penalties

While less serious than burglary, criminal trespass is also simpler for the prosecutor to prove. Trespassing covers structures, homes, and real estate, protecting more property than burglary.

What Is Criminal Trespass in New York

Entering another’s a property without the owner’s or authorized user’s consent is criminal trespass. This offense, unlike burglary, does not call for criminal intent at the time of entrance because the crime is committed by the unauthorized entry itself.

Penalties for Criminal Trespass in New York

In New York, criminal trespass is a criminal offense that occurs when an individual knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on someone else’s property. The penalties for criminal trespass depend on the specific circumstances of the offense and the severity of the crime committed.

  • Criminal trespass violation. A trespass that doesn’t involve any of the additional factors listed below constitutes a violation, punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a $250 fine.
  • Criminal trespass in the third degree: is a class B misdemeanor and is the most common form of criminal trespass in New York. This offense occurs when an individual knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on someone else’s property. The penalties for this crime include up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Criminal trespass in the second degree: is a class A misdemeanor and occurs when an individual knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on someone else’s property and the property is fenced or enclosed in a manner designed to keep out intruders. The penalties for this crime include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree: this is a class D felony and is the most serious form of criminal trespass in New York. This offense occurs when an individual knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime. The penalties for this crime include up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

In addition to these penalties, individuals convicted of criminal trespass in New York may also be subject to additional penalties such as restitution, community service, and probation. Restitution may be ordered to compensate the victim for any damages or losses suffered as a result of the offense. Community service may be ordered as a condition of probation or as a stand-alone sentence. Probation is a sentence that allows individuals to remain out of jail or prison as long as they comply with certain conditions, such as reporting to a probation officer, staying employed, and avoiding further criminal activity.

In some cases, individuals who are charged with criminal trespass may be eligible for alternative sentencing programs such as drug court, mental health court, or veterans court. These programs are designed to provide individuals with the support and resources they need to overcome the underlying issues that led to their criminal behavior.

In conclusion, the penalties for criminal trespass in New York vary depending on the severity of the offense and the specific circumstances of the case. It is important to note that criminal trespass is a serious offense and individuals who are charged with this crime should seek the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney to help protect their rights and interests.

What Are The Defenses To Trespassing Charges In New York?

Defenses to trespassing charges in New York City can include:

  • Lack of intent: If the individual did not know they were trespassing or had no intention to trespass, they may be able to use this as a defense.
  • Consent: If the property owner gave the individual permission to enter the property, they cannot be charged with trespassing.
  • Necessity: If the individual entered the property because it was necessary to prevent greater harm, such as to rescue someone in danger, they may be able to use necessity as a defense.
  • Constitutional violations: If the individual’s rights under the Fourth Amendment were violated during the arrest, such as an unlawful search or seizure, this may be used as a defense.
  • Mistake of fact: If the individual reasonably believed that they were authorized to enter the property, they may be able to use this as a defense.
  • Statute of limitations: If too much time has passed since the alleged trespassing occurred, the individual may not be charged or may be able to have the charges dismissed.

It’s important to note that each case is unique and the specific defenses available will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Consulting a criminal defense attorney can help to determine the best defense strategy for a specific case.

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