The offense of criminal trespass can arise in a number of ways so it tends to be much more common in Lawrenceville and other municipalities in Mercer County than other charges. It can arise as the result of entering a building or structure without a license, remaining on property despite being advised that they are trespassing or because someone is “peeping” into the window of someone’s residence. When the purpose for entering is to commit a separate offense like theft, the conduct escalates into a burglary. If you were charged with trespass in Hamilton, East Windsor, Ewing, Princeton, Hopewell Township or another town, hiring a competent defense attorney is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. Make no mistake about it, a conviction for trespassing results in a criminal record and penalties that can serious impact your life. Securing representation by a skilled lawyer can accomplish a considerable amount in reducing the chances of your being found guilty. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall includes a team of former prosecutors that have been defending individuals arrested for trespass for decades throughout Mercer County. To obtain a free initial consultation with one of our criminal lawyers, contact our Lawrence Office or another firm location.Trespass Offense in Mercer County New Jersey
The criminal trespass law of New Jersey is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 and outlines three forms of conduct that result in a violation. The headings that follow discuss each pedigree of trespass that can arise under this statute, the elements to proving the charge, grading of offense and penalties.
- Unlicensed Entry Into a Structure
Trespassing is a fourth degree crime when it involves entry into a dwelling, school, research facility and utility installation. The elements that must be established by the state to prove a unlicensed trespass include: (1) property that is a dwelling school, research or utility facility; (2) unlawful entry or surreptitiously remaining on the property by the accused; (3) without a license or privilege to enter or remain; and (4) knowledge by the actor that he/she lacked a license or privilege to enter the property.
- Defiant Trespass.
Defiant trespass under subsection c of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 is a petty disorderly persons offense. Unlike unlicensed entry, this form of criminal trespass arises when the presence concerns an open area that the actor is occupying despite notice to the contrary. The elements to prove a defiant trespass include: (1) entry or remaining on property; (2) without a license or privilege to do so; (3) knowledge that there was no license or privilege; and (4) notice against trespass was given to the defendant.
- Peering Into Windows or Openings in a Dwelling.
A fourth degree crime for trespass also arises when someone peers into a window or opening in a dwelling in violation of 2C:18-3c. The accused must know that he/she lacks a privilege or license to peer, possess a purpose to invade the privacy of the person targeted and the incident must occur under circumstances in which a reasonable person inside the dwelling would not expect to be observed.
Penalties for Criminal Trespass. The penalties for a fourth degree crime of trespass include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to 18 months. A disorderly persons offense for criminal trespass carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in the county jail.
Diversion Programs for Trespass. An individual who is charged with criminal trespass may apply for a Conditional Dismissal if they are a first time offender facing a disorderly persons offense for trespass. A similar program is available individuals facing a fourth degree charge contrary to 2C:18-3. Both programs involve a period of probation that is usually one year.Hamilton Trespass Lawyer
It should be obvious from reading this article that trespassing on a property can be significantly more complicated when it results in a criminal charge in Hamilton Township or elsewhere in the county. You will face the potential for a record that can follow you for years and penalties that even include jail. You cannot afford to deal with an offense with stakes that can be as high as these without a qualified lawyer. Here at the Marshall Firm, our staff of defense attorneys has over a century of combined experience defending charges at the Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton and in municipal courts like the one in Robbinsville, Trenton, West Windsor, Pennington and Hightstown. If you were like to take advantage of a complementary case review and receive a recommendation regarding what our lawyers believe to be an effective strategy to defend you, call our office in Hamilton. An attorney is available to help you now.