Burlgary is a crime that involves the entering of another person’s property in an unlawful manner and with the intention of committing an illegal act, usually to steal property or money. The crime is considered a felony. Under New York’s Penal Law, there are three types of offenses related to burglary. The least serious charge of the three is burglary in the third degree. Under New York’s Penal Law section 140.20, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to be guilty of burglary in the third degree. The prosecutor must prove that you were unlawfully in or on the premises and that you must have had a premeditated reason for being there. This means that you must have had the intention of committing a crime when you entered the premises as entering property that belongs to someone else is trespassing, not burglary.
Example of Burglary in the Third Degree as Per New York Penal Law Section 140.20
An example of burglary in the third degree per the New York Law Section 140.20 is a man entering the home of his ex-wife. He does so through the back door, knowing that it would probably be unlocked. The man is carrying a dog leash and is intent on stealing the dog that the former couple cherished during their marriage but that he lost after the divorce as his ex-wife was granted full ownership. The man collects the dog and stealthily leaves the house. As a result of these actions, he could be charged and prosecuted for burglary in the third degree because he unlawfully entered his ex-wife’s house and had a dog leash in tow, proving that he fully intended on taking her dog.
On the other hand, if the man simply entered his ex-wife’s home and didn’t take the dog or steal any of her belongings, he could be charged with trespassing. That situation would not involve a burglary charge.
Possible Defenses for Burglary in the Third Degree
One of the chief defenses that your NYC criminal lawyer can use is to prove that although you were on the premises unlawfully, you had no intention of committing burglary or any other crime. For instance, if you were shopping at a supermarket during very late hours and ended up getting locked in the building by mistake, this means you were actually lawfully on the premises and were not there with the intention of committing any type of crime.
Penalties and Sentences for Burglary in the Third Degree
The crime of burglary in the third degree is considered to be a class D felony. As a result, the maximum sentence you can receive when you are charged and convicted of the crime is seven years in prison. Depending on whether or not you have a prior criminal record, you may be sentenced to a longer or shorter term in prison. In addition, if you don’t have any prior convictions or none for the past 10 years, you may not even receive any prison stay at all and might instead simply receive probation. However, having at least one previous felony conviction during the past 10 years can mean the judge sentences you to a minimum of two to four years in prison.