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Argued March 13, 2001

On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

The issue presented in this appeal is whether an unoccupied apartment that is available for rent retains the status of a “dwelling” for purposes of the criminal trespass statute. Defendant Lamont E. Scott was arrested after breaking into a vacant apartment. In an unreported opinion, the Appellate Division reversed defendant’s fourth-degree criminal trespass conviction and directed entry of a judgment convicting him of the lesser-included disorderly persons offense of criminal trespass. The court held that the vacant apartment did not constitute a “dwelling” under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3a because the “apartment was between rentals, [and] there was no one who actually occupied it or who had the right to occupy it for residential purposes.” Because we conclude that an unoccupied apartment that is between rentals and suitable for occupancy is a dwelling for purposes of the criminal trespass statute, we reverse.

 
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