Philadelphia Criminal Trespass Charge Lawyer
Most of us have some basic understanding of what trespassing is. The basic moral standards of society teach us that it is wrong to enter a terrestrial or physical property on which you do not belong. Criminal Trespass is the means by which our legal system reflects and enforces these moral standards.
Trespassing is a crime, and the Commonwealth treats it accordingly. If you have been charged with criminal trespass, you may be facing both fines and prison time. Contact The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys and discuss these charges.
Criminal Trespass Defined
As with any criminal matter, it is crucial to understand what exactly the crime involves. This is important as the legal system determines one’s guilt based on the elements of the law, which is the same mode by which your lawyer will defend you against the charges. An individual commits criminal trespass in the Commonwealth when:
“Knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he:
- enters, gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof;
- breaks into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.”
So what should you take from this “legalese?” First of all, the portion about “knowing” entails that you it is impossible to accidentally trespass. You have to have the appropriate understanding that you are not supposed to be in this place to commit the crime. Second, you are trespassing whether you gain access by trickery/deceit or sneak in. Lastly, you are trespassing if you break in to a building.
Criminal trespass as defined by the Commonwealth includes a great many other instances which the law takes to constitute trespass, including:
- Ignoring fencing designed to keep intruders out.
- Failing to adhere to posted or actual communication denying access.
- Threatening the owner or occupant of the premises.
- Defacing or otherwise damaging the premises.
- Stealing metals from the property (i.e. copper piping).
- Starting or causing a fire on the premises.
This is not an exhaustive list, as the statute and case law provide a great many instances which have been deemed to constitute criminal trespass.
Possible Defenses to Criminal Trespass
Criminal trespass charges vary in severity from summary offenses to second-degree felonies. As such, the penalties range in kind, from lesser fines to significant fines and jail time. It is important that no matter the charge, you defend it to avoid the penalties and a criminal record.
As we discussed before, knowledge is a necessary element for any conviction of criminal trespass. The state must prove this element in order to secure your conviction. Therefore, a defense illustrating that you reasonably believed you were allowed to enter or remain on the premises may prove victorious.
Whether you believed that the premises was open to the public or that you were specifically empowered to be upon the premises, your belief should thwart the knowledge component.
If you have been charged with criminal trespass, the time to act is now. Call the Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. today to begin preparing a defense so that you can avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.