The signs posted on someone’s property might warn you not to trespass. But not every property has such a sign, and you may have entered a property, thinking it was accessible to you and not knowing you were trespassing.
Criminal trespass charges cover a broad spectrum of situations. The charges vary widely but can include jail time, fines and a criminal record. An experienced defense attorney may be able to lessen the punishment. Your attorney may also be able to lower a burglary charge to criminal trespass.
What You Need To Know About Criminal Trespass
In Pennsylvania, you commit criminal trespass if, knowing you are not licensed or privileged to do so, you enter a building or occupied structure by breaking in or gaining entry through subterfuge or surreptitious ways.
You can be charged if you enter a property you are not supposed to be in, by:
- Breaking in by force, intimidation, unauthorized opening of locks or through an opening not designed for human access.
- Sneaking in.
- You enter, and remain on the property, even when you are told not to do so, and/or you ignore signs and fencing.
- You threaten or terrorize the owner or occupant of the premises.
- You enter with the intention of starting, or causing to be started, a fire.
- You might have trespassed so you can deface or damage the premises
Depending on the circumstances, the charges for criminal trespass can range from a felony to a misdemeanor to a summary offense.
There are three key defenses you can provide for a criminal trespass charge:
- You believed the building was abandoned.
- You thought the premises was open to the public and you were acting lawfully.
- You reasonably believed the owner of the premises, or someone empowered to let you in, would have allowed you to enter or remain.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
- Much of what your lawyer can do to help you will depend on the exact circumstances of your case.
- You may have through the building was abandoned or was open to the public. If so, your lawyer will gather the evidence or witnesses to prove it.
- You might have believed you had permission to enter. If so, your lawyer will gather the evidence or witnesses to prove it.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against a criminal trespass charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Criminal Trespass Law
Criminal trespass is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 35. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.