Can you be arrested for burglary of a house, if you never went inside?

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Can you be arrested for burglary of a house, if you never went inside?

About 7 months ago I was with 2 people who robbed a house. I was not driving; I was only a passenger. When arriving at the house that they robbed, I smoked a cigarette while they went inside. They both were charged and did thier time but now the police who arrested them are trying to get me for burglary. Is this possible?

Asked on December 22, 2012 under Criminal Law, New York

Answers:

David West / West & Corvelli

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, unfortunately it is.  If you were present when a Burglary of a home was committed and remained in the vehicle while others went inside and stole items or vandalized the home then you can be charged as a party to their crime under some circumstances.

The most common way this happens is because police are already suspicious that you knew what was going to happen and that you went along with it.  They may also not believe your story that you remained in the car.  They probably also believe that you were given some of the merchandise or money that was stolen for your participation.  This is especially true if you supplied the vehicle or any tools or clothing that was used by the other persons.

Of greater importance to whether you can be charged or convicted will be the information the other people who did the burglary gave to police or the prosecution.  If they have agreed to help them in exchange for leniency or a lighter sentence then those two people could tell police that you were involved, that you went inside or that you received some of what was taken.  This may not be the truth but they can still rely upon it to take out a warrant for your arrest and they can have them testify to this in court where - if the jury believes them - you could be convicted.

For this reason, it is essential that you seek the help of an experience criminal defense lawyer like myself to protect you and to try and prove you really had nothing to do with what happened.  We are trained to establish a strong defense for clients like you and to make sure that your story gets told. I would speak with a lawyer immediately as police could get a warrant and arrest you at any time.

Good Luck.

David West

Attorney at Law

David West / David West & Associates

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, unfortunately it is.  If you were present when a Burglary of a home was committed and remained in the vehicle while others went inside and stole items or vandalized the home then you can be charged as a party to their crime under some circumstances.

The most common way this happens is because police are already suspicious that you knew what was going to happen and that you went along with it.  They may also not believe your story that you remained in the car.  They probably also believe that you were given some of the merchandise or money that was stolen for your participation.  This is especially true if you supplied the vehicle or any tools or clothing that was used by the other persons.

Of greater importance to whether you can be charged or convicted will be the information the other people who did the burglary gave to police or the prosecution.  If they have agreed to help them in exchange for leniency or a lighter sentence then those two people could tell police that you were involved, that you went inside or that you received some of what was taken.  This may not be the truth but they can still rely upon it to take out a warrant for your arrest and they can have them testify to this in court where - if the jury believes them - you could be convicted.

For this reason, it is essential that you seek the help of an experience criminal defense lawyer like myself to protect you and to try and prove you really had nothing to do with what happened.  We are trained to establish a strong defense for clients like you and to make sure that your story gets told. I would speak with a lawyer immediately as police could get a warrant and arrest you at any time.

Good Luck.

David West

Attorney at Law


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