Criminal Charges That May Not Be As Bad As they Seem

Lake Placid Police Charge Landlord With Burglary

By JOE SEELIG

Highlands Today

Published: September 19, 2016

LAKE PLACID - A Lake Placid man was free Thursday on $1,250 bail after he was arrested by the Lake Placid Police Department and charged with burglary because he entered his tenant's apartment without permission and without prior notice.

Billy Ray Weeks, 67, of 76 Weeks Road, was charged with petty theft and burglary of a dwelling. The apartment is part of a licensed labor camp in the 400 block of Main Avenue, reportedly operated by Weeks.

Police officer Mark Schneider arrested Weeks Tuesday afternoon after several run-ins with him that day.

Williams said from reading a report, it appeared that Weeks had a problem with some individuals who were either inside or hanging around outside of the building.

Schneider questioned Weeks about the tenant, who Weeks told him was up to date with his rent. Weeks reportedly told Schneider that he conducted weekly inspections of the residences. Schneider reportedly told him he had to give the tenants ample warning.

The law allows a landlord to enter if there is an emergency, if the landlord posts a notice within 12 hours before going in, or if the landlord has the tenant's permission.

"Mr. Weeks did enter the residence at the above location without the permission of the tenant and without posting any notice to the tenant," Schneider reported. "Mr. Weeks also, while inside the residence, removed a fan from the living room area of the residence, again without permission of the tenant."

Schneider noted that Weeks had been previously warned that he did not have the right to enter the residence without the permission of the tenant. Schneider reported he left but returned and parked nearby.

After a short time, Schneider reported he saw Weeks enter the rear door of the residence and come out with a fan. Weeks claimed he loaned the fan to the tenant.

Police Chief Phil Williams said Thursday he didn't want to play Monday-morning quarterback and second-guess his officer on this case.

"But, the law is clear that a tenant does have rights as to when a landlord can make inspections," he said.

The question seems to be who enforces those rights.

Williams said Schneider's report stated that Weeks admitted he had turned off the tenant's electricity and ordered him to leave. However, Weeks reportedly told Schneider that he had not rented to this tenant but then said the tenant's rent was up to date.

At issue may be if criminal law applies to a state statute with civil remedies, such as complaining about a landlord to the state health department or obtaining a proper eviction notice, or by a tenant suing a landlord in civil court or vise versa.

The town does not have a landlord tenant ordinance.

Williams reserved comment and left the legitimacy of the case up to the state attorney's office.

"It sounds like a bucket-of-worms case though," Williams said.

Aggravated Assault On A Minor

Another illustrative case of the crime not as bad as the charges.

An 19 year old applicant at a new car dealership had been arrested and charge with Aggravated assault on a minor. Defined as the crime of physically attacking another person which results in serious bodily harm and/or is made with a deadly or dangerous weapon such as a gun, knife, sword etc. 

Turns out, the Police report revealed this charge was the result of a physical confrontation between the applicant who was 18 at the time, and his younger 17 year old brother who the applicant claimed was high on drugs and attacked him at their parent's home. The older brother struck the younger brother with a porch chair leg resulting in the younger brother being injured.

The propensity of law enforcement to file the most serious charges possible sometimes results in charges like these.

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