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What should I know if I face accusations of burglary?


In New York State, those who are facing accusations of having committed a burglary must be aware of the definition of the crime, what the penalties are and how the allegations can be enhanced depending on the situation. For people who are dealing with these charges, knowing the criteria for burglary charges is important, but so too is it important to have a legal professional to help with the case.

A person who enters a location or remains there unlawfully and does so intending to commit a crime, could face charges of third-degree burglary. The entry happens when the person intrudes in a building with any part of his body, so even just sticking one's head into a location can result in a charge of third-degree burglary. It is not necessary for the person to have entered the location by force.

There are two elements of burglary. One is trespassing or entering and staying on the property despite knowing that it is against the law. The second is when there is a specific intent to take part in a crime when in the building. A third-degree burglary charge can be raised to second-degree when there is specific intent and the following factors are in place: it is a dwelling; or the person was entering the building, is in immediate flight from the location or participated in the crime and had explosives, a deadly weapon, caused a physical injury to someone who was not participating or showed what looked to be a firearm. The charges will be raised to first-degree if it is a dwelling and one of the above elements for second-degree burglary are in place.

Third-degree burglary is a Class D felony and can result in one to seven years incarceration with a fine of as much as $5,000. Second-degree burglary is a Class C felony with one to 15 years incarceration and a fine of as much as $5,000. First-degree burglary is a Class B felony with one to 25 years incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

Being charged with burglary can easily reach the level of violent crimes when there are weapons or people who were not involved are injured due to the act. Those who are confronted with accusations of burglary and other allegations should have legal advice and assistance to deal with the charges. A lawyer who has experience in criminal cases, armed robbery and more can help with the defense, perhaps negotiate a plea bargain or gain an acquittal. This is the first call that those facing these charges should make.

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James M. Wagman, Attorney at Law

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