Building Super Charged with “Sexually Motivated Felony”

If you’ve ever wondered how a relatively simple crime can escalate into a more serious one, read on. What follows is not the strangest story we’ve ever seen, but it certainly ranks high on the list.

A resident of Rye, who lived alone with his Labrador retriever, felt on a number of occasions that upon arriving back at his apartment, someone had entered his home while he was out. Nothing was stolen, but he did notice small things, like a window or blinds that appeared to have been opened or closed since he was there earlier. In order to find out what was going on, he installed three video surveillance cameras inside the home. What he wound up with was astonishing. In the footage, his building superintendent could be seen entering the apartment, stripping naked, and having sex with the Labrador retriever!

The superintendent eventually pleaded guilty to charges that included the commission of a sexually motivated felony. In accordance with section 130.91 of the Penal Law, the offense is defined as the commission of a “specified offense” for the purpose, in whole or in part, of sexual gratification. The specified offenses include second degree burglary. Burglary in the second degree includes entering or unlawfully remaining in a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime.

The way this plays out is that the defendant’s entry into or remaining in the dwelling for the apparent purpose of having sex with the dog (sexual misconduct, a class A misdemeanor), completes the elements necessary for second degree burglary, a class C felony. When the sexual gratification element is added, it becomes a sexually motivated felony, a separate offense under the law, with penalties that amounted, in this case, to six and a half years in prison, seven years of probation, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Apart from the rather bizarre facts in the case, it does show how the criminal laws are interrelated, and how each fact affects the ultimate outcome. For example, had the conduct been limited to unlawful entry into a dwelling, the offense would have been second degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. Add the intent to commit a crime, and it becomes second degree burglary, a felony. Add the sexual gratification motive, and it becomes a sex crime. And as the classification of the offense increases, so do the potential penalties.

George Vomvolakis Law Offices
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New York, NY 10016
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