Is an arrest imminent for trespassing and burglary from an incident that occurred on the Brooklyn Bridge last week? Last Tuesday, infiltrators slipped past the heavily secured anti-terrorism zones, and in one of the biggest security breaches in the city's history, scaled the cables on the bridge and replaced the American flag with bleached white banners. Today, a pro-marijuana activist claimed responsibility for hatching the plan to commit the crime. The NYPD has devoted an incredible amount of resources to this investigation and are certainly itching to make an arrest.
Many of the department's investigators have been pulled from homicide, counterterrorism, and other units to help track down the perpetrators who climbed the bridge's towers.
Rev. Bud Green, a weed booster from California, claimed today that he hashed out the details of the stunt over the phone with fellow anarchists and that he has only waited this long to reveal himself because the group planned to climb the bridge a second time. Any arrests for this stunt will certainly land the individuals in severe legal trouble.
While there have been reports about the extraction of DNA evidence from items left behind on the bridge, I am not privy to any information beyond what has been provided through local media outlets. That being said, if a prosecution is brought against any of the individuals reponsible for the flag swap, they will likley be facing burglary and trespass charges.
Even though when we think of burglary, we generally think of a bandit breaking into an unoccupied home or apartment, the legal definition of burglary is actually quite broad and can apply to many situations. Burglary is typically defined as an unlawful entry into almost any structure with the intent to committ a crime inside. The crime does not have to be a theft or a larceny. Here, the flag-swappers ascent onto the tower of the bridge was in all likelihood unauthorized, but what about their intent to commit a crime? If after the white flags were flown, the anarchists left with the stars and stripes, a theft would have certainly taken place. But what if they left without the American flag?
Back in 2008, New York City passed a local law that made it illegal to scale any city structure more than 50 feet tall. This includes not only buildings, cranes and statues, but bridges as well.
The NYPD has been struggling with security breaches this year. Several months ago, a 16-year old boy was arrested for sneaking to the top of 1 World Trade Center with his camera, followed by the arrest of four men who base-jumped from the Freedom Tower.
Burglary is a felony charge and is highly penalized by the courts. Because burglary is almost always charged in conjunction with other counts, it is important to quickly develop a successfull defense. Those charged will need a strong New York criminal attorney who can work to reduce the felony charges or mitigate the crime in order to avoid a costly felony conviction and jail time.