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Defining the crime of trespass in New York

Previously on this blog we have discussed burglary and arson as types of property crimes in New York. In this post we are going to explore the definition of the property crime of trespass.

Per New York Penal Code article 140, a person commits criminal trespass if they enter the premises of another's property knowingly and stay there unlawfully. New York law defines premises to include buildings. Buildings include any sort of watercraft, vehicle or structure that a person may lodge in overnight or that a person may use as a part of their business. It also includes motor trucks and schools. In the case of apartment or condominium complexes, each unit is considered both as a part of the entire complex and also as an individual building.

Also, under New York law, a person unlawfully enters or remains on another's premises when he or she does not have the privilege or license to be there. Under certain circumstances this could include public premises if the person has a lawful order against him or her disallowing him or her to be there. If a building is only partially open to the public, this gives a person the right only to remain on the part of the property that is public property, and not any other parts.

Trespass may seem like an inconsequential crime, but it can be a very serious matter with consequences ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. In a future post we will discuss the differences between third-degree trespass, second-degree trespass and first-degree trespass. In the meantime, those who have been accused of committing trespass may want to seek legal help, in order to better understand what these criminal charges entail.

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