Entering a forbidden space or staying at a place long after permission has expired constitute ways to trespass on someone’s property. In addition to being civilly liable, you also could face criminal trespass charges.
Trespassing is a crime similar to burglary because both involve the unlawful entry onto the property of another. However, the intruder’s state of mind differs in these offenses. If the actor enters property with criminal intent, then it’s considered a burglary; if the actor didn’t enter or remain on the property for criminal purposes, then the likely charge is that of criminal trespass.
There are Forms of Criminal Trespass
- Unlicensed Entry of Structures
- Defiant Trespasser
- Peering into Windows or Other Openings of Dwelling Places
Unlicensed entry of structures. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or surreptitiously remains in any research facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a school or on school property. The offense is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a dwelling. An offense under this section is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a research facility, power generation facility, waste treatment facility, public sewage facility, water treatment facility, public water facility, nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds. Otherwise, it is a disorderly persons offense.Defiant Trespasser
Defiant Trespasser is defined as a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
- Actual communication to the actor.
- Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.
- Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he peers into a window or other opening of a dwelling or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation for the purpose of invading the privacy of another person and under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the dwelling or other structure would not expect to be observed.Possible Defenses Against Criminal Trespass
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
- A structure involved in an offense under subsection a. was abandoned.
- The structure was at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the structure.
- The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the structure, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain, or, in the case of subsection c. of this section, to peer.