NY Burglary Basics: Your Best Criminal Defense is Knowing the Law

Having been prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for a combined fourteen years, the NY criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC have experienced a vast number of the offenses from Disorderly Conduct, Forgery and Grand Larceny to Burglary, Kidnapping and Assault. While our experience and knowledge is a tremendous asset for our clients, we always encourage our clients to educate themselves on the criminal law as well. There is little doubt that having a basic understanding of New York criminal law is the best defense to keep you from getting in trouble in the first place.

One particular crime that is somewhat common is the crime of Burglary. When many people think of Burglary, they don’t recognize how easy it is to get caught up in one of the most serious violent crimes. Depending on the level of the offense, Burglary ranges from a “D” felony punishable by up to seven years to a “B” felony punishable by up to twenty five years in state prison.

According to Penal Law 140.20, one is guilty of Burglary in the Third Degree when one knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein. A simple reading of this statute makes it clear how easy it is to get caught up in this crime. If you enter a building without permission to do so and you have the intent to commit a crime you can be charged with Burglary. It is very important to understand that you merely need to have the intent to commit a crime while there…it does not have to be completed. A great way to look at this is if you go into a building that houses a clothing store and you are not supposed to be inside it and you intend to steal the clothes…you can be charged with Burglary. That’s correct. You do not have to actually lay one finger on those clothes.

While it seems that this offense is clear in its scope, a further review of Burglary may alter your view. Pursuant to this article, a “building” is also defined as an enclosed motor truck or an enclosed motor truck trailer. You read that right. If you break into a truck that has an enclosed back (your “average” work or business truck similar to a UPS or moving truck) you are committing Burglary in the Third Degree. While this offense is a “D” felony punishable by up to seven years, if you enter an apartment where someone sleeps at night, then the crime is elevated to a “C” felony punishable by a minimum of three and one half years and a maximum of fifteen years. In fact, if you enter a building that houses some dwellings and businesses, for legal purposes, if the building contains any dwellings you can be charged for the more serious “C” felony.

Although this entry is just the Burglary basics, I will address the different degrees, definitions, and cases addressing this offense in the future. Until then, if you find yourself or a loved one charged with Burglary or any other crime, contact Crotty Saland PC to fight for your rights, integrity and liberty.

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