A person can be charged with burglary if two elements are present in the crime they are alleged to have committed. It needs to be proven a person was on a property, entered the property as well as trespass while being aware what they were doing was unlawful. It must also be proven they were illegally on a property with the intent to commit a crime.
Legal Definition of Burglary
It is important people understand the difference between burglary and criminal trespass. Burglary involves entering or spending time unlawfully on property with the intention of engaging in criminal activity. It is a felony. A person charged with criminal trespass can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor. The key difference is the intent to commit an unlawful act.
A person can be charged with first-degree burglary if they enter a property and are armed with a deadly weapon, explosives, displays an item that is a firearm or appears to be one or inflict injury to a non-participant. A charge of second-degree burglary can happen if they are entering a building, or are going away from a building and are guilty of one of the four elements of first-degree burglary. Someone can be guilty of third-degree burglary if they trespass on a property with the requisite intent to commit a crime.
In the state of New York, a first-degree burglary conviction is a class B felony. A person found guilty of this can be incarcerated for up to 25 years and given a fine of up to $5,000. A second-degree burglary conviction is a class C felony. A person convicted of this could be incarcerated for up to 15 years as well as be given a fine up to $5,000. A third-degree burglary is a class D felony. A person who is guilty of this can be incarcerated for up to seven years and receive a fine of up to $5,000.
The penalties for burglary in New York are covered in New York Penal Code Article 140 et seq. A person will always get a more serious sentence when convicted of burglary if they injure someone other than a person who was participating in the burglary. They will get more serious punishment if they used a dangerous instrument to threaten someone during the burglary. This is considered any object that can be used in a way to cause serious injury or death.
Unlawful Entry Defense
A legal defense against burglary is to challenge the assumption a defendant entered or remained on a property unlawfully. A defense attorney may be able to show their client had permission to be on the premises or had no intent to commit a criminal act. It is possible for a property to have certain areas open to the public. The property owner may not have made it known the property was off limits to the public.
In the state of New York, a prosecutor must prove a defendant unlawfully entered a building with the intent to commit a crime. Having a friendly witness could be a strong part of a legal defense. If someone was present during the incident and can testify a defendant had no criminal intent when they were on the property, the charges could be reduced and even dropped.
Actual Innocence Defense
It is possible for a defendant to have not committed the crime. In this case, a defense attorney’s job will be to convince a court of their client’s innocence. The burden of proof for a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is always with the prosecution. It will be possible to provide a legitimate alibi. It’s also possible to create doubt when it comes to the techniques used to collect forensic evidence. Once significant doubt is created, it is possible to obtain an acquittal.
When someone has been charged with burglary, it is a very serious situation. A person in this situation can be severely punished if found guilty. It’s important for people facing this to understand their rights. An experienced defense attorney will be able to carefully examine the facts. They can provide legal counsel and guidance that will result in the best possible outcome.