In New York, burglary is defined as the act of illegally entering or remaining in a building with the intention of committing a crime, such as theft or robbery. There is no actual requirement that you commit the crime once inside: all that matters is your intent. Also sometimes known as home invasion, most burglary charges are treated as violent felonies, even if you are unarmed and no one was either injured or even home at the time you broke in.

The crime of burglary in New York State has three degrees:

Burglary in the Third Degree: The most common burglary charge, you can be found guilty of this offense if you satisfy the basic burglary elements. It is a class D felony that can send you to a state prison for up to seven years.

Burglary in the Second Degree: A Burglary is automatically upgraded to this charge if the building you illegally enter is a house or other inhabited dwelling OR you enter an uninhabited building and one or more of the following applies:

  •     You are carrying a weapon
  •     You injure someone else
  •     You display what appears to be a firearm
  •     You threaten to use a dangerous weapon

If found guilty of Burglary in the Second Degree, which is a class C violent felony, there is a mandatory minimum prison term of three-and-a-half years, but depending on the circumstances and your prior record, you could be incarcerated for up to 15 years.

Burglary in the First Degree: Burglary in the First Degree takes place when you unlawfully enter a dwelling and commit one or more of the following criminal acts:

  •     Cause physical injury to someone else
  •     Display what appears to be a firearm
  •     Threaten to use a dangerous weapon

This class B violent felony incurs a minimum prison term of five years and a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Although you can be charged with burglary alone, the crime can potentially be bundled in with other offenses that increase the final punishment, such as:

  •     Assault
  •     Criminal possession of a weapon
  •     Possession of burglar’s tools
  •     Criminal possession of stolen property
  •     Grand larceny

If you have been arrested in New York for a burglary offense, contact a New York criminal defense attorney at once. There are certain affirmative defenses that could apply, such as:

  •     You entered the premises with the owner or occupier’s consent (or reasonably believed you had consent, as the owner/occupier never explicitly revoked it)
  •     You were too intoxicated at the time to form the required intent

A criminal conviction for burglary can have a serious impact on your future. Not only could you go to prison and pay a substantial fine, you are also left with a criminal record that makes it challenging to obtain certain jobs and licenses, rent an apartment, or qualify for public benefits. Your criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and present the strongest possible defense for your circumstances. Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC at 212-951-1232 if you are facing any criminal charges or are concerned that you may be the subject of a criminal investigation. Ms. Rendelman offers free consultations.