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NY Penal Law § 140.20: Burglary in the third degree

Burglary involves entering another person’s property unlawfully with the intention of committing an unlawful act. It is a felony. There are three burglary offenses in the New York Penal Law. Burglary in the third degree is the lease serious charge. Under New York Penal Law section 140.20 to be convicted of a burglary in the third degree there are at least two things the prosecution must prove. First, the prosecutor must prove that you unlawfully entered the premises. Second the prosecutor must show premeditation. In other words, the prosecutor must show that you entered the premises with the intention to commit a crime. Merely entering a premises without permission is not burglary, but trespass.


Without permission Watson enters the home of his ex-wife Laura by using the patio door which he knew would likely be unlocked. Watson was carrying a dog leash. He saw the dog that he loved, but which was awarded to his wife in the divorce. He picked up the dog and ran out of the house. Watson could be prosecuted for burglary in the third degree because the fact that he carried a leash shows that he entered the house for the purpose of stealing the dog.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal trespass in the third degree: New York Penal Law section 140.17
  2. Possession of burglar's tools: New York Penal Law section 140.35

If you are able to show that even though you were on the premises unlawfully, but you were not there to commit a crime, you have a defense to a burglary charge. For example, if you were shopping at a department store and ended up getting locked in by mistake, while you were no longer on the premises lawfully, you were not there to steal or commit any other crime.


Because burglary in the third degree is a class D felony the maximum sentence is 7 years in prison. Whether or not you are sent to prison and the length of time you must spend in prison depends largely on your prior criminal record. If you have no prior felony convictions within the previous 10 years it is possible for the judge to not sentence you to any prison time at all. Your sentence may include just probation. If you do have at least one prior felony conviction within the last 10 years the judge will sentence you to at last 2-4 years in prison.

New York Penal Law § 140.20: Burglary in the third degree

A person is guilty of burglary in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with burglary in the third degree, it is important that you immediately seek experienced legal guidance. The potential consequences of being convicted of burglary in the third degree involve spending years in prison and paying significant fines. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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