Tag: Burglary Conviction cannot Stand

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In People v. Joseph, the Court of Appeals holds that Defendant’s Burglary Conviction cannot Stand because the Residential Area of the Building could not be accessed from where he entered.

The Defendant was charged “with one count each of burglary in the second degree (Penal Law § 140.25 [2]), burglary in the third degree (Penal Law § 140.20), resisting arrest (Penal Law § 205.30) and attempted escape in the second degree (Penal Law §§ 110; 205.10 [2]).” Here, the Court of Appeals grapples with whether the Defendant actually committed a burglary as defined by the Penal Law.

The facts are recited by the Court as follows:

On the evening of June 28, 2010, defendant entered the basement of the Greenleaf Deli in Manhattan. The deli was located on the ground floor of a seven-story building, with six floors of residential apartments above it. The basement, which was only accessible through two cellar doors located on the public sidewalk adjacent to the deli, was used to store deli merchandise. There was no access from the basement to any part of the residential units of the building, or to the deli itself. The apartment residents did not have access to the basement and only deli employees were permitted to enter the basement. An employee observed defendant on the deli’s surveillance monitor enter the open doors to the deli basement and walk around the basement with a flashlight. The employee went outside, closed and locked the basement doors and called 911. The police arrived, asked defendant to climb out of the basement, and, after a struggle, arrested him.

The argument put forward, before and during trial, by his defense attorney was that the deli basement was not a dwelling as the law defined it. Indeed, longstanding law holds that “if a building contains a dwelling, a burglary committed in any part of that building is the burglary of a dwelling; but an exception exists where the building is large and the crime is committed in a place so remote and inaccessible from the living quarters that the special dangers inherent in the burglary of a dwelling do not exist.” People v McCray (23 NY3d 621, 625 [2014]).   more