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New York Penal Law § 140.17: Criminal trespass in the first degree

New York Penal Law § 140.17: Criminal trespass in the first degree

When an individual unlawfully goes onto or lingers on property that belongs to another person, they have committed Criminal Trespass. Should this be done in New York by an individual who is in possession of a deadly weapon, they could be charged with Criminal Trespass in the First Degree. It involves someone who is armed with a deadly weapon knowingly going onto or staying on another person’s property.

Weapons Or Explosives

The individual trespassing will possess a deadly weapon, explosives or could have another person with them in possession of a deadly weapon or explosives. Under New York law, a deadly weapon is one that is designed to be loaded and able to release a shot, plastic or metal knuckles, knife, dagger, blackjack, billy club and more.


This could happen when a young man enters the lobby of a publishing company. He has a backpack with him and wants to see the head of the publishing company. He demands to see the head of the company because he wants to discuss the book series he has written but was rejected by the company. The security guard tells the young man he is not permitted to speak with the head of the publishing company. The young man then becomes very angry and refuses to leave when asked by the security guard. When the security guard tries to remove him, the young man takes something out of his backpack that appears to be an explosive device. He then threatens to blow up everyone in the building if he doesn’t get to see the head of the publishing company. In this situation, the young man can be charged with Criminal Trespass in the First Degree.


An individual who is convicted with Criminal Trespass in the First Degree is facing a conviction of a class D felony. This type of charge will come with a maximum sentence of incarceration for seven years. The length of time a person will have to spend in prison will be influenced by them having a criminal record. Should an individual be found guilty of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree and have no previous felony convictions for the past 10 years, a judge may not sentence them to any jail time. It is possible for a sentence to require them to spend a specified amount of time on probation. Should someone have a previous felony conviction during the past 10 years, a judge could give them a minimum sentence of up to four years in prison.

Legal Defense

One of the most common, as well as effective, legal defenses against any claim of trespass is stating the defendant was not aware they were trespassing. The burden of proof to show the defendant knew they were trespassing will be on the prosecutor. This must be established for a conviction to be possible. A defense attorney may show there were no signs posted anywhere on the property indicating it was private property. They may also make the claim there were no fences, and the property was in no way locked up. No effort was made by the owner to indicate it was private property and that no trespassing was permitted. It is also possible for someone to claim they had to trespass on private property because of an emergency. Should someone go onto a porch to avoid a severe electrical story, it would not be considered criminal trespassing. Another defense is if a person had permission from the owner either written or verbal to be on the property. It may also be possible for an attorney to prove the weapon their client possessed could not be classified as deadly. Should a prosecutor not be able to establish the weapon was deadly, a defendant could be given a lesser charge or not charge at all.

Being charged with Criminal Trespass in the First Degree can be a complicated situation. It is important to have professional legal representation. An experienced attorney will know how to prove a defendant’s case using the facts of the situation. They will know what is necessary for a defendant to get a lesser charge or no charge at all.

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