New York City Criminal Trespassing Lawyer

In New York, all degrees of the Criminal Trespass statutes have the same basic underlying elements. A person commits Criminal Trespass when that person either enters an area which that person had no right to enter; or remains in an area after another person or organization with the authority to exclude that person commands the person to leave.

The right to prevent a person from coming onto property, or to lawfully command that they leave does exclusively rest with the owner of the property. A renter, leaseholder, and/or subletter all have a contractual relationship with the owner of property which grants them the authority to control who may enter. Additionally, just because a person is invited onto property does not mean that person has the right to stay as long as desired. Anyone who has authority over the premises can lawfully command a person to leave. If they do not then leave, they are in violation of the statute. A New York City criminal trespassing lawyer could help you prepare a defense if you are facing these charges.

Level of Offenses for Trespassing

The Criminal Trespass statutes range from a B misdemeanor to a D felony. The lowest level of the offense applies to common areas of city-owned property, and non-residential private areas. This is a B misdemeanor charge and carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.

The degree becomes more serious if the person trespasses inside of a dwelling. A dwelling, under New York law, is any type of building where a person usually lodges or remains overnight. This an A misdemeanor charge and carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Finally, the most serious degree of the statute occurs when a person is not only trespassing inside a building (not necessarily a dwelling), but is either carrying a deadly weapon or firearm. This is a D felony charge and carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail.

In circumstances like an eviction, a person may be arrested for Criminal Trespass if they re-enter the dwelling from which they have been evicted. However, for a person to violate the statute, they must know that their authority to be inside the premises has been revoked. As such, it is important to hire an attorney in New York City who understands these elements of consent and how it is either communicated or withdrawn in criminal trespassing cases.

How Does State Law Define “Lawful Entry?”

State law defines “lawful entry” as having either “privileged or licensed” consent to enter a property. If someone enters a property and does not have either of these forms of consent, they are committing simple or criminal trespass, depending on extenuating circumstances.

A person cannot trespass on property open to the public unless doing so would violate a direct lawful order from the property’s owner or a legal authority such as a police officer. Otherwise, that person is assumed to have both license and privilege to travel as they please. Likewise, a person has license and privilege to enter a property that seems to be vacant unless they are personally forbidden from entering by the owner, or if the property owner posts clear signage communicating the same. A lawyer in New York City who has experience handling criminal trespass cases could determine if a particular individual had “privilege and license” to enter a property.

When Does Trespassing Turn into Burglary?

According to New York Penal Law §140.20, a person may be charged with burglary if they knowingly enter or remain inside a building without license or privilege with the express intent of committing a crime while inside. Importantly, the intended criminal act does not actually have to occur for someone to be charged with burglary in the third degree, which is a class D felony. However, the presence of a deadly weapon, an injury to another uninvolved party, or the burglary of a dwelling could result in more severe charges and consequences.

What are the Defenses to Trespassing Charges in New York City?

In general, there are two ways to successfully fight an arrest for criminal trespassing. An arrested individual can either prove that they had permission from the owner to be on that property, or that they had an inherent right to be on that property. Generally, the intent of the alleged trespasser is not a relevant factor. This means that if someone was unaware that they were prohibited to be on someone else’s property, they may still be charged with criminal trespass. A skilled local attorney from our firm could help someone prepare a proper defense for their criminal trespassing charges.

Consider Working with a New York City Criminal Trespassing Attorney

The criminal defense attorneys at our firm are experienced in evaluating how the authority to enter and/or remain is given and under what circumstances a person is expected to know their authority to be present in a location has been rescinded.

At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman, the attorneys could examine the facts of the case from every angle and work to present the best possible defense. Call a New York City criminal trespassing lawyer for a free consultation.

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