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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23203
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My son went to his friends house, and his friend brought him

Customer Question

My son went to his friend's house, and his friend brought him up to their building's roof to see the skyline. Then he get charged by the police and have a Desk Appearance Ticket for PL140.15. He has to appear in the Criminal Court later on. My question is this is a serious charge? Do we need to find a lawyer?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
Hello Jacustomer,

Section 140.15 of the NY Penal Law is Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree. I have linked you to the law. It is a Class A misdemeanor, which means that it would have a maximm penalty of a year in jail. However, as the police gave him a desk apperance ticket, this would mean that it is your son's first encounter with the criminal justice system. So, as long as he comes to court on his court date(s) jail is not a real possibility.

Your son should have a lawyer. If the friend lived in the building and the two were just up there and not causing any damage, it's possible that the DA would allow this case to be reduced to Trespass as the violation and not a crime, so that your son wouldn't have to carry around a criminal record if he didn't want to risk fighting that case.

His first court date will be his arraignment. If you can have a lawyer there for him on that date, that would be of great help to him. Otherwise, if you cannot afford to get him a lawyer when he is called before the judge and he is asked how he pleads, he should plead "not guilty." Then he can tell the judge that he will need to have a free lawyer appointed to him. The judge will adjourn the case and give him a new date to come back, and he'll meet with his lawyer then, who can go over his case with him and tell him of his rights.

If your son wanted to he could probably resolve this case on this first court date, but without a lawyer it is a bad idea. What seems like a quick and easy way out to a kid can be something that he'll spend all of his adult years regretting. He cannot take any kind of plea offer on this case that will give him a criminal record, unless or until he has had all potential consequences of that explained to him and his lawyer can't get him a better offer.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My son is 19 years old, he told me that most likely they will drop the case when he reported to court, or they will put him on probation because he is 19 years old. Is this correct?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.

In my experience, the state will not drop the case. They are more likely to reduce the charge to a 140.05, which is a lower form of trespass and a criminal violation. A violation is less than a misdemeanor and is not considered a crime, so he will still be able to say he's never been convicted of a crime, even if he pleads guilty to the 140.05. They would offer him a fine or a couple of days of community service to go with it and that will be that.

If this is the only charge, they will not offer him probation on the misdemeanor. It is not serious enough to be worth a sentence of probation. On the misdemeanor, they would probably offer him a conditional discharge (go home, stay out of trouble for a year or we will reopen this case on you).

Either way, because he is still a young man and because criminal matters can have lifetime consequences, he really should have a lawyer. What I'm concerned about -- and what you should be concerned about -- is that he is not stuck with a criminal record at his age that can hinder him for the rest of his life. NYS does not expunge criminal matters, so if he doesn't get this right, there's no way of getting it off of his record later.

The violation WILL show up on a background check as a conviction, even though it is not a crime. It will show as a conviction to a violation. So you want a lawyer to try to get that sealed as part of the deal before he takes that plea. If the DA does NOT reduce the case to a misdmeanor, he will end up with a criminal record and a misdemeanor conviction, even if he gets a conditional discharge, if he pleads to the 140.15 or the 140.10..

So I would still tell him to have a lawyer, because staying out of jail is not the only thing he has to worry about here. And of course, depending on what is alleged, he may also want to fight the case rather than take any deal. And that is something he should not do by himself.

Good luck!