Trespassing charges NJ – Trespassing Penalties in NJ – NJ Trespassing 2C:18-3 – Trespassing In New Jersey
In New Jersey, trespassing can be classified as a felony and if convicted, you are actually facing jail time. This can potentially be avoided if you handle your case correctly.”
A trespassing charge can be brought in all kinds of circumstances – by store owners seeking to prevent loitering, by neighbors who are at odds with one another, or by home owners who have placed a “no trespassing” sign on their property.
Think about all those times you’ve been on the side of the road and seen a sign posted on a fence warning, “KEEP OUT.” This charge is what happens when you get a little curious about what’s behind that sign.
A trespassing charge is typically classified as a disorderly persons offense, meaning you could be facing up to six (6) months in jail, in addition to a permanent criminal record. However, if an overzealous prosecutor attempts to classify your charge as felony trespassing, you may be facing more than that. Fourth degree felony charges under the trespassing statute carry up to 18 months in state prison.
On the bright side, hiring an attorney who understands the arguments that can be raised in your defense is the best way to put the charges behind you.
The Tormey Law Firm is comprised of aggressive criminal trial attorneys, including a former New Jersey prosecutor. We are dedicated to giving clients the best possible defense, and we have extensive experience representing clients charged with criminal offenses, including trespassing, burglary, and criminal mischief. Additionally, we have developed advanced defense strategies for trespassing charges that can help get you a win in the courtroom.
Call us today for a free consultation, and please continue reading this page for additional information about trespassing charges in New Jersey.
Trespassing in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3, which defines a trespass as unlawful entry onto a property. If a person enters the premises with the intent to commit an offense on the property, then he or she can be charged with criminal trespass.
N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 breaks down trespassing into three distinct categories:
(1) Unlicensed Entry of Structures:
A person commits unlicensed entry when he or she enters a building without authorization. If a person trespasses another person’s home or a property belonging to a school, he or she could be charged with fourth degree trespassing, which can lead to six (6) months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
(2) Unlawful Peering into Windows:
Unlawful peering is more commonly known as “peeping.” In New Jersey, unlawful peering is a fourth degree criminal offense, subjecting you to six (6) months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. And the punishments can linger: Do you really want to be known for the rest of your life as some kind of “peeping tom”?
(3) Defiant Trespasser:
A person commits defiant trespassing when he or she enters a place despite having been given notice to stay off the premises. This notice can be given in the form of an actual communication by an angry property owner or it can be communicated through a “PRIVATE PROPERTY” sign. Defiant trespassing is a petty disorderly persons offense, and a conviction could expose the offender to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.00.
Other penalties for trespassing include financial restitution to the victim and long-term suspension of the offender’s driver’s license. A conviction can also tarnish a person’s permanent record. You are not going to want your friends, your family, and your co-workers to think that you are some kind of burglar or, worse yet, a peeping tom.
There are defenses to a trespassing charge. Because the prosecutor must prove that you acted knowingly, one defense is that you were simply unaware at the time that you had no legal right to be on the property. Another defense that can be raised is that the building you entered was abandoned at the time.
However, raising these defenses is easier said than done. They are best left to a professional who is familiar with courtroom procedure in New Jersey.
Call the New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm for a free consultation about your trespassing charge.
We know how to best present the evidence to spare you from a criminal conviction and help you avoid trespassing penalties. With experienced criminal defense attorneys on staff, we are able to anticipate the arguments that the prosecution will make in your case and come up with a strategy that will get you a win in the courtroom. Call us today so that we can begin to uncover the facts surrounding your arrest and devise a personalized strategy that will work for you.
N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 – Trespassing Statute
a. 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, or in or upon utility company property. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a school or on a 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. An offense under this subsection is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in or upon utility company property. Otherwise it is a disorderly persons offense.
b. Defiant trespasser. 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:
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(3) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
c. Peering into windows or other openings of dwelling places. 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.
d. Defenses. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) A structure involved in an offense under subsection a. was abandoned;
(2) 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; or
(3) 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.