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Do you need hard evidence such as video to convict someone of 2nd degree burglary?

New York, NY |

Employee was seen closing door in hotel room ( hotel employee: part of their job) and the guest reports over 12hrs later his wallet is missing. His daughter observed the employee closing door and the father asked the employee if everything was ok : employee suggested he check his room and reported the incident to mgmt. The employee is now facing burglary to the 2nd degree charges because guest says he observed the empoyee closing the door. Is that enough to convict. Employee's first offense, former military, husband and father.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. There is no legal requirement that the prosecutor's office must have video evidence in order to convict someone of burglary. In fact, there is no legal requirement that they have to present any specific type of evidence. The prosecution just has prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That being said, many potential jurors have come to expect video, or DNA or fingerprint evidence, or a confession. The lack of video may make this a difficult case for the prosecution to win at trial. But every case is different, and fact-specific, and it is impossible to tell you whether the evidence that you've provided in your post is enough to convict someone at trial. Feel free to contact my office for a free consultation. Burglary in the 2nd Degree, is a very serious charge; it is a C Violent Felony, punishable by up to 15 years incarceration.


  2. In any criminal trial, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution meaning the District Attorney's Office.
    The burden of proof for a conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt" which the judge, who gives the law to the jurors before they deliberate, clearly defines for them.
    Your scenario seems to be sprinkled with doubts, some of which could easily be viewed as reasonable doubt.
    Were others, maids or security people, inside the room in the 12 hour period? Did the hotel guest have other guests, besides himself and his daughter, in the room in this time period?
    Who else has access to this room and why? Is there a convenience bar in the room that is stocked and restocked on a daily basis?
    Video evidence can be good for a defendant or bad obviously depending on what it shows.
    Why would the employee report the daughter's question and advise her to thoroughly check the room if he was involved in theft from the room? That makes no sense. Was the employee's verbal report "memorialized," meaning was it put in writing by management when it was so reported?
    If all the employee did was follow out his duties then surely he committed no crime.
    I think any defense lawyer might find enough "holes" in the facts as you present them to drive a truck through.
    I also think any aggressive, experienced lawyer would welcome attacking such miniscule "evidence" in this case.
    Video evidence is not specifically required to convict or acquit a defendant and, as I explained, it might be good, it might be bad or it might be meaningless.
    Good luck. It sounds as though this employee might be a solid citizen who could get a full and fair trial in front of a jury of his peers.
    In laymen's language, based on these facts, I think the employee with no prior record and a solid military and family history has a great chance to "walk" away without a conviction here.

    Michael Marley
    Law Office Of Michael Marley
    mlcmarley@aol.com
    Phone 917 853 4484
    Available 7 Days A Week


  3. Hard evidence is not necessary to convict. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient. For example. Wallet is on table. Employee walks in and closes door. Employee opens door and walks out. Wallet is not on table. That is sufficient to convict. Here, however, because the wallet was not reported stolen for 14 hours creates a gap that may be difficult to overcome in proving the theft beyond a reasonable doubt. You need to hire an attorney asap.

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