Criminal trespass is a crime that occurs when a person unlawfully enters or lingers on a property that belongs to someone else. However, if you enter someone else’s property or linger on it with a weapon, you can face a charge of criminal trespass in the first degree. As per the New York Penal Law 140.17, this type of crime is considered a felony and involves knowingly entering or staying on another person’s property.
What Constitutes Criminal Trespass in the First Degree?
In addition to actually entering or lingering on someone else’s property, criminal trespass in the first degree can occur when the following situations are in place:
• You possess a deadly weapon or explosives
• You possess a firearm or know that another person with you is in possession of one
Under New York’s Penal Code law section 10.00(12), deadly weapons fall under the categories of any weapon that is loaded and that can release a shot; a knife or dagger; billy club, blackjack; or plastic or metal knuckles.
Example of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree as Per New York’s Penal Code 140.17
A young man enters the lobby of a biotech company and wants to see the CEO. He demands to see him and explains that his reason is to discuss the way the company uses animals for experiments. The security guard tells the young man that he can’t speak to the CEO and asks him to leave. The man refuses and the security guard comes over to escort him out of the building. However, the young man quickly pulls something out of his messenger bag that looks to be explosives and threatens to blow up the entire building and everyone in it if he’s not allowed to see the company’s CEO. As a result of these actions, the young man can be charged with the crime of criminal trespass in the first degree as per the New York Penal Code 140.17. This is because he stayed on the property after being asked to leave and had explosives in his possession.
Defenses for Criminal Trespass in the First Degree
New York’s Penal Law has a very specific term when it refers to a “deadly weapon.” As a result, the prosecutor has to show that you actually possessed a deadly weapon if you are charged with criminal trespass in the first degree. However, your NYC criminal attorney can challenge that and prove that you did not have a deadly weapon in your possession while you were on or in someone else’s property. This is a good defense against this particular charge, although you may still face the lesser charge of criminal trespass, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties and Sentences for Criminal Trespass in the First Degree
Criminal trespass in the first degree is considered to be a class D felony. That means that the maximum sentence you could get when you are charged with the crime is seven years in prison. However, if you have a prior criminal record, your sentence and whether you even get a prison term depends on that. If you haven’t had a prior conviction in the past 10 years, you may only receive the penalty of probation. If you do have at least a single prior felony conviction, however, the judge may sentence you to anywhere from two to four years in prison.