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Westchester Criminal Trespass Law

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 07:53 am


Westchester Criminal Trespass Law: A Helpful Guide for Residents

Trespassing laws in New York aim to protect private property and prevent unwanted intrusions. However, these laws can sometimes be confusing or seem unfair. This article provides a helpful overview of criminal trespass laws in Westchester County, NY, including what constitutes trespass, penalties, and potential defenses.

What is Considered Criminal Trespass in Westchester County?

In New York, trespassing becomes a criminal matter when certain conditions are met. There are three levels of criminal trespass charges in Westchester County:

Third Degree Criminal Trespass

This is the least serious trespass charge under New York Penal Law §140.10. It involves trespassing onto:

  • Fenced or enclosed property designed to exclude intruders
  • Railroad property
  • Public housing facilities
  • Schools

Third degree criminal trespass is a class B misdemeanor.

Second Degree Criminal Trespass

This charge, defined in New York Penal Law §140.15, applies to trespassing in a private dwelling. It is a class A misdemeanor.

First Degree Criminal Trespass

The most serious trespass offense under New York Penal Law §140.17, first degree criminal trespass involves trespassing while in possession of explosives or a deadly weapon. This is a class D felony.

Penalties for Criminal Trespass in Westchester County

The penalties for criminal trespass depend on the degree of the offense:

  • Third Degree: Up to 3 months in jail or 1 year probation
  • Second Degree: Up to 1 year in jail
  • First Degree: Up to 7 years in prison

Fines up to $1000 may also be imposed. Having a criminal record can negatively impact jobs, housing, and other aspects of life.

Potential Defenses to Criminal Trespass Charges

Here are some potential defenses a Westchester criminal defense lawyer may use:

  • You had permission to be there: If the owner or someone authorized gave you permission, that is a complete defense.
  • The premises weren’t clearly marked: If there was no “No Trespassing” sign or the property wasn’t fenced, you may argue you didn’t know it was off limits.
  • You didn’t “knowingly” trespass: If you reasonably believed you were allowed there, you may not have “knowingly” trespassed.
  • Misidentification: If the witnesses who reported you were mistaken, you could argue misidentification.
  • Lack of criminal intent: For burglary charges, you can argue you had no intent to commit a crime once inside.

What To Do If Facing Criminal Trespass Charges

If you have been arrested for criminal trespass in Westchester County, don’t delay in seeking legal help. A knowledgeable Westchester criminal trespass lawyer can review the evidence against you, advise you of your rights, and build the strongest defense to fight the charges. They may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t go it alone against the criminal justice system.

FAQs About Westchester Criminal Trespass Law

What’s the difference between trespass and burglary?

The main difference is intent. Trespass does not require criminal intent, only unlawful entry. Burglary requires intent to commit a crime after unlawful entry.

Can you trespass in public spaces?

Yes, if your “license” to be there was revoked, like if you’ve been banned from a park or business open to the public.

What about apartment building common areas?

Yes, courts have ruled common areas like lobbies or hallways can be considered “dwellings” for second degree criminal trespass.

How does NY define “unlawfully” entering property?

It means entering without license or privilege, i.e. without permission from the owner or authorized person. There are some exceptions for open public spaces.

What should I do if the police question me about trespassing?

Politely decline to answer questions and ask to speak with your lawyer. Anything you say may be used against you.


Criminal trespass laws in New York aim to balance property rights with fairness. Charges shouldn’t be taken lightly, as convictions can result in jail time and a criminal record. If accused of trespass in Westchester County, immediately consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. They can evaluate defenses and work to achieve the best resolution in your case.

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