According to Washington PA Criminal Attorney Sean Logue, criminal trespass can be defined as unlawfully entering or remaining on someone else’s property, as well as making threats while being present on their premises. The criminal trespass laws in Pennsylvania are comprehensive, which can lead to misunderstandings between individuals and result in criminal charges.
Criminal Trespass Categories
The trespass offense a person is charged with in Pennsylvania varies based on the type of trespassing they allegedly committed. Within the state, there are four distinct categories of trespassing. Let’s explore them in greater detail:
1. Simple Trespassing: This offense involves remaining in a place with the intent to:
- Start fires on the property
- Threaten or engage in acts, statements, or gestures targeted at the property owner
- Vandalize, deface, or damage the property
2. Agricultural Trespassing: This occurs when individuals enter clearly enclosed or marked land used for agricultural purposes and fail to leave when instructed to do so by the owner or someone in authority.
3. Defiant Trespassing: In this case, individuals continue to occupy a property despite being informed by various means, including:
- Posted signs
- Verbal notifications by anyone present
- Fencing or other forms of enclosure
- Orders to leave from school officials, government facility personnel, or law enforcement officers
4. Trespassing into a Building: This offense involves knowingly entering or breaking into a building without permission, either through deception, sneaking, or hiding within the premises.
Criminal Trespass Consequences
Trespassing can lead to a wide range of consequences, especially in certain circumstances. If the crime is connected to domestic violence or if the offender has a history of trespassing, the penalties can become more severe. Additionally, if there is a protection from abuse (PFA) order against the offender, additional charges may be added to the trespassing offense.
For simple trespass convictions, fines can amount to as much as $300, and jail sentences can reach up to 90 days.
Defiant trespass convictions vary in punishment depending on the classification of the misdemeanor. Fines can go as high as $10,000, and prison sentences can last for up to 5 years.
The penalties for trespassing also depend on the degree of felony. A conviction can result in fines of up to $25,000 and prison terms of up to 10 years.
Agricultural trespassing has specific penalties outlined in the law, which vary based on the level of misdemeanor. Fines range from $250 to $5,000, and jail terms can extend up to two years.
Criminal Trespass Examples
Various situations can lead to criminal trespass charges, such as forcefully entering someone’s home, visiting someone without informing them, refusing to leave after repeated requests, or making threats while on someone’s property.
Criminal Trespass Defenses
In most cases, defenses against criminal trespassing charges rely on proving that the alleged offender did not intend to cause harm or trespass. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that the alleged offender had the intention to cause trouble. However, defending against these charges can be challenging, especially if they are part of a domestic violence incident or a violation of a PFA.
Given the potential negative impact on custody, divorce proceedings, employment, and educational opportunities, it is crucial for someone facing criminal trespass charges to seek the assistance of a Washington PA DUI attorney who is dedicated to protecting their rights. Contact Sean Logue at (844) PITT-DUI today to ensure your rights are safeguarded.
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