Our Westchester criminal defense lawyers have handled many cases involving allegations in the New York City and Westchester County Criminal Court. Often New York’s criminal trespass laws outlaw behavior with is not consistent with common sense and which would not logically be considered as trespassing.
The Trespass laws in New York have several degrees with varying degrees of severity and possible punishment.
In general under New York’s Penal Law 140.05 a Trespass occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises. This simple level of trespass is a non-criminal violation. What typically leads to absurd results is that the term premises includes the term building, which has a special and broad definition which includes any structure, vehicle or watercraft used for overnight lodging of persons, or used by persons for carrying on business therein, or used as an elementary or secondary school, or a truck or trailer. Where a building consists of two or more units separately secured or occupied, each unit is considered both a separate building in itself and a part of the main building.
New York’s Penal Law also has an unusual definition of unlawfully entering and remaining in a premises. The definition is as follows: A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he is not licensed or privileged to do so. A person who, regardless of his intent, enters or remains in or upon premises which are at the time open to the public does so with license and privilege unless he defies a lawful order not to enter or remain, personally communicated to him by the owner of such premises or other authorized person. A license or privilege to enter or remain in a building which is only partly open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in that part of the building which is not open to the public. A person who enters or remains upon unimproved and apparently unused land, which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, does so with license and privilege unless notice against trespass is personally communicated to him by the owner of such land or other authorized person, or unless such notice is given by posting in a conspicuous manner. A person who enters or remains in or about a school building without written permission from someone authorized to issue such permission or without a legitimate reason which includes a relationship involving custody of or responsibility for a pupil or student enrolled in the school or without legitimate business or a purpose relating to the operation of the school does so without license and privilege.
Criminal Trespass in New York is a Class B Misdemeanor when a person trespasses on a property which is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders; or where the building is utilized as an elementary or secondary school or a children's overnight camp or where the building is used as a public housing project in violation of conspicuously posted rules or regulations governing entry and use thereof; or where a building is used as a public housing project in violation of a personally communicated request to leave the premises from a housing police officer or other person in charge thereof; or where the property is a right-of-way or yard of a railroad or rapid transit railroad which has been designated and conspicuously posted as a no-trespass railroad sign.
Trespass is a Class A Misdemeanor when the accused knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling; or is convicted of a crime which requires reporting and enters upon a school where the victim of the crime attends. Common areas located inside of residential multi-unit apartment buildings are "dwellings" within if they are generally closed to the public. Courts have recognized some unusual places to be unlawfully entered including a hallway of a brownstone with locked front doors and a no trespassing sign. Courts have also held that people can trespass in a stairwell in a public housing project where it was separated from lobby by doors, and the lobby is separated from street by doors.
Criminal trespass is a Class D Felony, where a person enters a building and has a deadly weapon, a shotgun, rifle or ammunition or is with someone who has any of these things.
From our White Plains office, our Westchester criminal defense lawyers regularly defend both misdemeanors and felonies in the Westchester County Court in White Plains and the City and Town Courts of White Plains, Yonkers, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, Port Chester, Valhalla, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Kisco, Somers, Scarsdale, Bronxville, Sleepy Hollow, Irvington and Tarrytown.