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Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.
In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:35 pm
Charged with Burglary in the Third Degree in New York? Here’s What You Need to Know
Finding out you’ve been charged with burglary in the third degree can be terrifying. Burglary charges can carry heavy penalties in New York, including potential prison time. But having an experienced criminal defense lawyer can mean the difference between getting your charges reduced or dismissed versus going to jail.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn:
Let’s start by making sense of these charges…
Under New York Penal Law § 140.20, a person is guilty of burglary in the third degree when he or she:
“Knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.”
There are a few key elements that make up this charge:
Unlawful Entry – The accused person enters or stays in a building without permission or authority. This could mean sneaking in through an unlocked door or window, using stolen keys, or hiding inside after hours.
Criminal Intent – The accused intended to commit another crime upon entering unlawfully. This additional offense can include larceny, assault, criminal mischief, or anything illegal.
Type of Building – Under NY statute, burglary applies to unlawful entry into any building, vehicle, or “floating vessel.” So homes, businesses, garages, and cars are all applicable.
Third degree burglary bumps the crime up to a class D felony from a lower misdemeanor and carries up to 7 years in prison. It’s applied when:
– The building is a dwelling (residence, apartment, etc)
– The accused is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon
Clearly, these are very serious charges with steep penalties if convicted. But several smart legal defenses can be raised to fight them…
While the prosecution must prove all elements of third degree burglary beyond reasonable doubt, a seasoned defense lawyer can challenge the charges by:
Disproving Criminal Intent
If you entered the building or property unintentionally (i.e. you were intoxicated and entered the wrong house) or without plans to commit any additional crime, the intent element fails.
Raising Permission as a Defense
If you had either explicit or implied permission to enter the property, such as being buzzed into an apartment by a friend, the entry was not unlawful.
Challenging the Classification
Was the building actually a “dwelling” as required for the felony charge? Disputing details like how the place was zoned or used can downgrade charges.
Eyewitness misidentification is common. If the victim or witness gave a vague description that doesn’t match you, identification can be challenged.
Questioning Physical Evidence
Inconsistent forensic evidence like fingerprints or DNA that don’t implicate you can undermine the DA’s proof of your involvement.
There are almost always opportunities to fight these allegations and raise doubt around the supposed events. An attorney experienced in dissecting burglary cases will know how to exploit these weaknesses for the best defense.
All defense lawyers are NOT created equal. To beat these charges, you need someone with specific skills and experience fighting NY burglary cases. Here are top traits to look for:
– Knowledge of New York Criminal Law – They are intimately familiar with NY penal code, sentencing guidelines, and court procedures for felony charges.
– Record Getting Charges Dismissed – They have successfully defended other burglary cases and gotten charges reduced or dropped completely.
– Trial Experience – They have litigation experience taking cases like yours to trial if plea deals can’t be reached.
– Investigative Capabilities – They aggressively investigate details of the allegations to build the strongest defense.
– Negotiation Skills – They can leverage flaws in the DA’s case to secure favorable plea bargains if needed.
– Focus on New York Courts – Ensure they handle cases regularly in NY courts rather than out-of-state. Familiarity with local prosecutors is a plus.
– Accessibility – They are available to talk/meet on short notice and make you feel like a priority.
– Record of Ethics – They have clean disciplinary history, good standing with bar associations, and positive client reviews.
Doing your research and asking the right questions during an initial consultation can reveal if a lawyer stacks up or not.
When meeting with potential defense counsel about your burglary charges, you should ask:
– How much experience do you have specifically defending burglary charges in New York?
– What are the most common strategies and defenses you use to fight these cases?
– Based on the details I shared, where do you see the weaknesses in the evidence against me?
– What are possible options for getting charges dismissed or reduced?
– How many cases similar to mine have you taken to trial compared to plea bargained?
– If my case may go to trial, are you comfortable acting as lead counsel?
– Will you be handling my case directly or passing it off to an associate?
– What is your policy on regular case updates and communication with clients?
– How quickly do you return calls, emails, and urgent requests from clients?
– What examples can you share of past burglary cases you have successfully defended?
Listen closely to their responses and make sure they align with the expertise criteria above. Gut feelings about an attorney’s experience and commitment to aggressively defending you also matter.
At the end of the day, the lawyer you choose can have a huge impact on the outcome of your burglary charges. Here are key benefits of hiring the best counsel:
Reduced Risk of Conviction – Their skills and experience give you the greatest chance of raising doubt, getting the case dismissed, or securing a not guilty verdict if necessary.
Lower Penalties – Even if charges aren’t dropped, they can negotiate reduced sentencing exposure through plea bargaining based on flaws in the prosecutor’s case.
Smoother Process – An organized, communicative lawyer will reduce anxiety through timely case updates, explaining what comes next, and setting expectations.
Avoiding Mistakes – Their expertise ensures you don’t make missteps when interacting with police and prosecutors or testifying that could hurt your case down the road.
Negotiation Leverage – Prosecutors and judges respect counsel with strong reputation and litigation skills, giving them greater leverage in negotiations.
Peace of Mind – Knowing you have a highly competent legal advocate in your corner willing to go the distance provides immense relief.
While hiring an attorney always requires financial investment, in criminal cases, it’s wise to prioritize quality representation above all else. The consequences of losing are too great.
Bottom line – combining burglary law expertise, investigative prowess, negotiation skills, and trial experience gives you a significant advantage. Hiring a lawyer who checks these boxes makes it much more likely your charges will get dismissed or reduced – keeping your freedom and criminal record intact.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for burglary charges anywhere in New York, don’t leave the outcome to chance. The legal system is complex. Police and prosecutors play by their own rules. You need to level the playing field with counsel who’s ready to fight tooth and nail for you.
Every case is different, but with the right strategy and representation, we can uncover flaws, expose reasonable doubt, and put you in the strongest possible position for a positive resolution.
I urge you – reach out today to schedule your free initial consultation, or give me a call anytime at 212-300-5196. I am standing by ready to help 24/7. Don’t take on New York burglary charges alone. Let’s start crafting your winning defense!
Naomi Rothwell is a former Manhattan prosecutor who handled hundreds of felony cases before building her reputation as a tough NYC defense lawyer. She leads the criminal defense team at Spodek Law Group.
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