New York Penal Law 140.20 Burglary Third Degree
Burglary is a serious crime in New York that involves unlawfully entering a building with the intent to commit a further crime inside. Burglary charges can carry severe penalties, even when no other crime is actually committed. Understanding the specific laws around burglary is important for anyone facing such charges.
Overview of Burglary Laws in New York
New York divides burglary into three degrees, with the first-degree being the most serious and third-degree being the least serious. The degrees are based on factors like:
- Whether the building was a home or another type of structure
- Whether the burglar was armed
- Whether anyone was injured
Burglary in the third degree, covered under New York Penal Law 140.20, is the lowest level burglary charge in New York. It applies when a person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in any building with the intent to commit a crime inside.
Some key aspects of burglary in the third degree:
- It is a class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison
- The prosecution does not need to prove that another crime was actually committed, only that the intent was there
- The building can be any type of structure, not just a home or dwelling
- The accused does not need to have been armed or caused injury
Elements of Burglary 3rd Degree
To be convicted under Penal Law 140.20, the prosecution must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. Knowingly Entered or Remained Unlawfully
This means the person was aware they were entering or remaining in the building without permission or legal right. Accidentally entering a building or staying past allowed times would not qualify.
Trespassing notices can play a role here. For example, if a store bans someone from the premises and they come back, they could be considered unlawfully on the property.
2. In a Building
Under New York law, buildings are defined broadly for burglary charges. As well as houses, apartments, stores, etc., the definition includes things like:
- Vehicles used for lodging or business
- Watercraft used for lodging or business
- Enclosed motor trucks or trailers
So burglary 3rd degree could cover illegally entering places like RVs, boats, trucks, and more.
3. With Intent to Commit a Crime
This is a key distinction between burglary and simple trespassing. The prosecution does not have to prove another crime was committed, only that the person intended to commit one when unlawfully entering the building.
The intended crime could be anything from assault to larceny to criminal mischief. But there must be evidence the person planned to commit some criminal act inside, beyond simply entering unlawfully.
Penalties for Burglary 3rd Degree
As a class D felony, burglary in the third degree carries potential penalties of:
- Up to 7 years in state prison
- Alternatives to incarceration like probation (up to 5 years) or conditional discharge (up to 3 years)
- Fines up to $5,000 or double the amount gained from the crime
- Restitution to victims
Jail time is not mandatory for a first offense. But prior felonies or violent crimes could mean a minimum 1-3 year prison sentence. Other factors like using a weapon or causing injury could lead to higher charges like second-degree burglary.
Probation or conditional discharge are common sentences for first-time offenders. But any burglary conviction stays on your criminal record for life and can limit jobs, housing, licenses, and more.
Defenses to Burglary 3rd Degree Charges
Fighting a burglary in the third degree charge starts with examining potential defenses with your criminal defense lawyer. Some common defenses include:
No intent to commit a crime – If there is insufficient evidence you planned to commit another criminal act inside the building, the “intent” element is not satisfied.
You had consent or did not “knowingly” enter unlawfully – For example, if you reasonably believed you had permission to enter the building or did not realize your permission had been revoked.
Misidentification – Mistaken identity is possible, especially if identification was based only on limited eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence.
No unlawful entry occurred – There may be factual disputes over whether you actually entered the building or were only near it.
Coerced confession – If a confession to the crime was coerced or given before you received your Miranda rights, it may be excluded.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your case to build the strongest defense strategy. This can include interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, researching case law, and more.
Additional Consequences of a Burglary Conviction
Beyond potential jail time, a burglary conviction can impact your life in many ways:
- Criminal record – Burglary is a felony conviction that remains on your NY criminal record permanently. This can make jobs, housing, loans, and other things much harder to obtain.
- Immigration issues – A felony conviction can lead to deportation for non-citizens or prevent legal immigration status.
- Loss of licenses – Professional licenses for things like real estate, nursing, and trade skills may be revoked.
- Gun ownership – Convicted felons cannot legally own firearms or ammunition.
- Voting rights – Felony convictions in New York temporarily suspend voting rights until parole or release from prison.
- Higher sentences for future crimes – Repeat felonies lead to harsher sentencing like 25-life for “three strikes.”
With an experienced criminal defense lawyer guiding you, it is possible to successfully fight burglary accusations and avoid the life-long impact of a felony conviction. But you need to be proactive in building your defense and following your attorney’s advice at every stage. Educate yourself on the specific laws and possible penalties, but also know there are options to protect your future.