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New York Breaking and Entering Frequently Asked Questions

What is breaking and entering in New York?

Breaking and entering is a type of property crime. In New York there is not a crime specifically called breaking and entering. There are criminal trespass offenses and burglary offenses. Both criminal trespass and burglary involve unlawfully entering a premises. In order to convict a defendant of criminal trespass, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The defendant knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building

In order to convict a defendant who has been charged with burglary, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building
  • The defendant had the intent to commit crime in the building

What is not required to be convicted of criminal trespass or burglary is actually “breaking” a door, window, or lock in order to enter the premises. Deceiving someone to gain access to a building, opening an unlocked door, or climbing through an open window is sufficient to unlawfully enter a building.

What are the consequences of a criminal trespass or burglary conviction?

If convicted of a misdemeanor criminal trespass offense, the defendant may face up to a year in jail. The sentence may also include fines, fees, restitution, probation, or community service. On the other hand, if the defendant is convicted of felony criminal trespass or felony burglary, the sentence may include up to 25 years in prison. Aggravating factors that may result in a more serious charge and a more severe sentence include:

  • The building is a dwelling
  • The defendant or another participant is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon
  • The defendant or another participant caused physical injury
  • The defendant or another participant uses or threatens use of dangerous instrument
  • The defendant or another participant displays what appears to be firearm
What are defenses to a charge of criminal trespass or burglary?

A common defense for criminal trespass is consent. For instance, if the owner consents to the person’s presence, then the person would not be there unlawfully. Another defense would be ownership of the property. A common scenario is where the owner of property forgets or loses the keys and decides to enter the property through a window. A neighbor, believing that a crime is in progress, calls the police. In this type of case, there would not have been a crime since the person owned the property. Other defenses may include mistaken identity, intoxication, and lack of intent.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you were arrested for criminal trespass or burglary, you face the possibility of being sent to prison, being required to pay hefty fees and fines, probation, as well as other serious consequences. Thus, it is important to have experienced representation who will fight for your legal rights. The skilled criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have more than 20 years of experience successfully representing clients in New York charged with felonies and misdemeanors. We can help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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