Criminal Trespass In The Second Degree: NY Penal Law § 140.15

by ECL Writer
Criminal Trespass In The Third Degree

Illegal entry onto another person’s property is prohibited by the law. You will have engaged in criminal trespass if you do this. Trespass laws are governed by three different laws. The second-degree crime of criminal trespass is intended to penalize both trespass into private residences and trespass by known sexual offenders. You would have engaged in second-degree criminal trespass in violation of New York Penal Law § 140.15 if you:

  • Are unlawfully on property that is a dwelling, or
  • You are a level 2 or 3 sex offender under the New York Sex Offender Registration Act and you enter the school attended by your victim

New York Penal Law section 140.00(3), defines a dwelling as a building that is used for lodging. Examples of dwellings include a house or apartment.

Eg: Sarah, a former embezzlement convict, recently completed her sentence and was released. Her child attends a prestigious private school. Sarah, wanting to be actively involved in her child’s education, attended a PTA meeting at the school. However, school authorities questioned her presence due to her criminal history and threatened to charge her with trespassing. Fortunately, Sarah cannot be prosecuted for criminal trespass since she was on school property for legitimate reasons connected to her child’s education. This scenario highlights the importance of understanding the nuances of trespassing laws in specific situations.

Criminal Trespass In The Second Degree Sentence

The maximum term for criminal trespass in the second degree is up to one year in jail because it is a class A misdemeanor rather than a felony. The court may decide to place you on three years of probation instead of jail time.


In the scenario where Sarah, a former embezzlement convict, attended a PTA meeting at her child’s school and faced potential trespassing charges, several defenses could apply:

  • Legitimate Purpose: Sarah’s presence at the school was motivated by her desire to participate in a PTA meeting, which is a legitimate and lawful activity connected to her child’s education. This can be a strong defense against trespassing allegations as she had a lawful reason for being on the premises.
  • Authorization: If Sarah received permission or an invitation to attend the PTA meeting from school authorities or the school administration, this authorization can serve as a robust defense. It shows that she had explicit consent to be on the school property.
  • Lack of Intent: Trespassing typically requires intent to enter or remain unlawfully on another’s property. If Sarah genuinely believed she had the right to attend the meeting and was unaware of any restrictions, her lack of intent to trespass can be a valid defense.
  • No Notice of Restriction: If there were no clear signs or notices posted indicating that individuals with certain criminal histories were prohibited from entering the school premises, Sarah may argue that she had no way of knowing about any restrictions.
  • Selective Enforcement: Sarah could argue that singling her out due to her criminal history while allowing others without such backgrounds to attend the meeting constitutes selective enforcement of trespassing laws, which may be legally questionable.
  • First Amendment Rights: Depending on the circumstances, Sarah might argue that denying her access to a public meeting at her child’s school infringes upon her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

Related Offenses

  1. Trespass: New York Penal Law section 140.05
  2. Criminal trespass in the third degree: New York Penal Law section 140.10
  3. Criminal trespass in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 140.17
  4. Burglary in the third degree: New York Penal Law section 140.20

Hiring A New York Lawyer For Criminal Trespass In The Second Degree Case

Hiring a New York lawyer for criminal trespass in the second degree case is imperative. Second-degree trespassing charges in the state can result in serious consequences, including jail time and fines. An experienced attorney will navigate the complexities of New York’s legal system, ensuring the defendant’s rights are protected and building a strong defense. They will assess the evidence, challenge any procedural errors, and negotiate with prosecutors for potential reductions or dismissals. With a skilled New York lawyer by your side, you increase your chances of a favorable outcome, minimizing the impact on your life and future.

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