When you knowingly enter another person’s property with the intent to cause physical harm, damage, or to steal, you can be found guilty of criminal trespass. However, when you accidentally enter another’s property, or believe you had permission to enter the grounds, you’ll need a strong legal defense against a trespassing charge in court.
How Does Someone Commit Criminal Trespass?
Under Section 3503 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania, a person commits criminal trespass if they knowingly without prior authorization:
- Enter, gain entry by subterfuge, or surreptitiously remain in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or
- Breaks into any building, occupied structure, separately secured portion, or occupied portion thereof.
It is important to note that “breaks into” means to gain entry by force, breaking, intimidation, unauthorized opening of locks, or through an opening not designed for human access. If found guilty of criminal trespass, they may be convicted of a felony of the third or second degree.
Other Types of Trespassing Charges
In addition to criminal trespass, there are other forms of trespassing charges possible. Other forms in Pennsylvania include:
- Trespassing in a Building: Knowingly entering, gaining entry, or breaking into any building or occupied structure.
- Simple Trespassing: When someone remains in any place to make threatening or terrorizing acts, threatening gestures, set fires, deface property, vandalize the premise, or otherwise damage property.
- Agricultural Trespass: Trespassing on agricultural land that is clearly marked, or remaining on the premises of agricultural land after being instructed to leave.
Common Trespassing Defenses
During criminal trespass hearings, there are potential defenses that can be used. Most commonly, the defense will argue that the building was abandoned at the time of the alleged trespass. In addition, if the premises in question was open to the public, the defendant may allege that they complied with the conditions for entering the property.
The final potential defense is that the individual in question reasonably believed that the owner of the premises would have given him permission to remain on the property.
Penalties to a Trespassing Charge
Depending on the severity and terms of your charge, the penalty you may face will differ.
- Summary offense: Up to 90 days of jail time, and fines of up to $300
- Third-degree misdemeanors: Up to 1 year of jail time, and fines of up to $2,000
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to 5 years of jail time, and fines of up to $10,000
- Third-degree felony: Up to 7 years of jail time, and fines of up to $15,000
- Second-degree felony: Up to 10 years of jail time, and fines of up to $25,000
The terms of your charge will determine your overall penalty.
Contact Kalinoski Law for Help With Trespassing Charges in Pennsylvania
As your advocate, Craig Kalinoski is a criminal defense attorney who is committed to protecting you in and out of court using his knowledge of the community, extensive knowledge of the law, tenacious negotiation skills, and commitment to thorough trial preparation. Our goal is to achieve the best possible situation so you can put your legal concerns behind you and get on with your life.
Work with a firm that is committed to protecting you and your future. Call (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case during a free consultation.