25 Sep 23

New York Penal Law 140.20: Burglary in the Third Degree

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Last Updated on: 29th September 2023, 07:28 am


New York Penal Law 140.20: Burglary in the Third Degree

Burglary in the third degree is the most common burglary charge in New York. It’s a class D felony that can have serious consequences if convicted. Let’s break down the law and what it means.

What is Burglary in the Third Degree?

According to New York Penal Law 140.20, a person is guilty of burglary in the third degree when they knowingly and unlawfully enter or remain in a building with intent to commit a crime inside. Both elements – unlawful entry and intent to commit a crime – must be proven for a conviction.

Burglary doesn’t require theft or larceny. The intent could be to assault someone, vandalize property, or anything illegal. But the prosecution must prove you intended to commit a specific crime when unlawfully entering the building.

What Makes Entry Unlawful?

There are a few ways entry can be considered unlawful under the burglary statute:

  • Entering without permission or authority
  • Entering through fraud, trick, or misrepresentation to gain access
  • Remaining in a building after permission to be there has been revoked

For example, if you lie about why you need to enter someone’s home or business, or stay in a store after closing time without permission, your presence would likely be considered unlawful.

What Buildings Are Covered?

The burglary law applies to any building, including:

  • Houses
  • Apartments
  • Offices
  • Stores
  • Warehouses
  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Barns
  • Any other structure used for regular activity

So burglary charges can arise from unlawfully entering both residential and commercial buildings.

What Kind of Intent Is Required?

To be guilty of burglary, you must have intended to commit a crime at the time of unlawful entry. Some examples of intent could include:

  • Intent to steal property (larceny)
  • Intent to damage property (criminal mischief)
  • Intent to assault someone (assault)
  • Intent to unlawfully use drugs inside (criminal possession of a controlled substance)

The prosecution doesn’t have to prove you actually committed the intended crime. Just proving the intent is enough for a burglary conviction.

Defenses to Burglary Charges

Some possible defenses to fight burglary allegations include:

  • You had permission or authority to enter the building
  • You did not enter or remain unlawfully
  • You did not have intent to commit a crime upon entry
  • Misidentification (you weren’t the person who entered the building)

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence and determine if any viable defenses exist in your case.

Penalties for Burglary in the Third Degree

Burglary in the third degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison. Other potential penalties include:

  • Up to 5 years probation
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Restitution to victims
  • Mandatory surcharges and fees

If you have a previous felony conviction within the past 10 years, you’ll face a mandatory state prison sentence of at least 2-4 years if convicted of burglary in the third degree.

Related Charges

Burglary accusations often involve other related charges, such as:

  • Criminal Trespass – Knowingly and unlawfully entering or remaining on property without permission. This can be charged as a lesser included offense of burglary or in addition to burglary charges.
  • Possession of Burglar’s Tools – Possessing tools or devices commonly used for unlawful entry, like lock picks, with intent to use them illegally. This may be charged alongside burglary accusations.
  • Petit Larceny – Theft of property worth under $1,000. Prosecutors may tack on petit larceny charges if something was stolen during the alleged burglary.
  • Criminal Mischief – Intentional property damage. This could apply if vandalism occurred during the alleged burglary.

Getting Legal Help for Burglary Charges

Don’t go through a burglary case alone. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can carefully examine the evidence, build a strong defense, negotiate with prosecutors, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Don’t leave your future to chance – get skilled legal help right away.