When you picture the crime of burglary, you may think of a burglar in a black ski mask who smashes a window to enter a home and then proceeds to stuff all the valuables into a big bag before disappearing into the night. That is indeed an example of burglary. But you don’t actually need to steal anything to be charged with burglary in New York, and you don’t need to forcibly break into a building either. You can be charged with and convicted for burglary, a serious felony, just for being in someone else’s home or business with the intent to commit a crime.

There are three separate New York burglary charges you could face:

  • Third degree burglary  

    Under NY Penal Law § 140.20, you can be found guilty of third degree burglary if you knowingly enter or remain unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime therein. Burglary in the third degree is a class D felony.
  • Second degree burglary

    A more serious offense, burglary in the second degree involves weapons, injuries, or homes. Generally, you commit second degree burglary under NY Penal Law § 140.25 if you knowingly enter or remain unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein, AND:
  • You or another participant in the crime are armed with explosives or a deadly weapon; or
  • You physically injure someone other than a person participating in the crime; or
  • You use or threaten the immediate use of a dangerous instrument; or
  • You display what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, or machine gun or other firearm; or
  • The building is a dwelling.

Note that the use of anything that looks like a firearm, whether it is real or not, can get you convicted for second degree burglary, a class C felony.

  • First degree burglary

    The most serious burglary charge under New York law, first degree burglary generally involves all of the same elements as second degree burglary, except that the building at issue is a dwelling. An additional distinction is that it if the first degree burglary charge is based on the display of an apparent firearm, it is an affirmative defense that the weapon was either not loaded or couldn’t actually be discharged (though you might still be charged with second degree burglary). First degree burglary is a class B felony.

Whereas the severity of other theft-related charges like grand larceny are related to the value of the property taken, burglary charges do not change regardless of whether millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds were stolen or nothing was taken at all. Of course, burglary may also involve the commission of any number of other separate criminal offenses for which you may also be charged.

Regardless of what kind of New York burglary charges you may be facing, you are facing a lifetime of potential consequences, including years behind bars. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you are being prosecuted for burglary or any other violent crime – call (718) 852-6763 to speak with one of our experienced Brooklyn criminal defense attorneys now. Your future and your freedom could depend on it.

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