People are not allowed to unlawfully go onto property that is owned or occupied by somebody else. If they do that, they can be found guilty of criminal trespass. In New York, there are three statutes that address criminal trespass. Criminal trespass in the second degree contemplates the trespass of residences along with trespasses committed by people who are registered sex offenders.
Criminal trespass in the second degree is covered by New York Penal Law section 140.15. Take note that a “dwelling” as defined by New York Penal Law section 140.00(3) is defined as “a building which is usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night.”
As per section 140.15, “A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when:
- 1. He or she knowingly enters or remains in a dwelling, or;
- 2. being a person required to maintain registration under article 6-C of the correction law and designated a level two or level three offender pursuant to subdivision six of section one hundred sixty-eight-I of the correction law, he or she enters or remains in a public or a private elementary, parochial, intermediate, junior high, vocational or high school knowing that the victim of the offense for which such registration is required attends or formerly attended such school. It shall not be an offense subject to prosecution under this subdivision if; the person is a lawfully registered student at such school; the person is a lawful registered participant in a school sponsored event; the person is a parent or legal guardian of a lawfully registered student at such school and enters the school for purposes of attending their child or dependent’s event or activity; such school is the person’s designated polling place and he or she enters such school building for the limited purpose of voting; or if the person enters such school building for the limited purposes authorized by the superintendent or chief administrator of such school.”
“Criminal trespass in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.” A class A misdemeanor is punishable by 364 days in jail or three years of probation along with a fine not to exceed $1,000. In a nutshell, a person commits criminal trespass in the second degree in New York when he or she:
- Is unlawfully on property that is used as a dwelling.
- Is on school property as a level two or three sex offender and entered the school of his or her victim and did not fall under an exception to section 140.15.
A viable defense to criminal trespass in the second degree can arise if the property that a person entered was not a dwelling as per section 140.00(3). For purposes of registered sex offenders and schools, defenses might exist if you had a child attending a particular school, or you are a student at that school. You might not be permitted to enter any other schools unless an exception exists
Perhaps the worst thing you can do after being told to stay off of a piece of property that you have no legal authority to be on is to argue about it. All that it takes is a 911 call, and you could be placed under arrest. The simplest solution is to just leave. If indeed you are arrested for trespassing in the second degree, always keep in mind that the prosecution has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Exercise your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. Don’t give police a statement or a confession. It will only be used against you by the prosecution. Contact us instead for a free consultation and case review. We promise to listen to your version of events closely and answer your questions. After that we will advise you of your legal alternatives. Make that call right away after being charged with any type of criminal trespass.