Many people assume trespassing is somewhat of a minor offense, but it’s actually a relatively serious crime in New Jersey. Depending upon the circumstances, being convicted of trespassing can mean jail or prison time.
There are several valid defenses against trespassing charges, however, some of which may get the charges dropped. If you’ve recently been indicted or believe someone is going to bring charges upon you, call an attorney in your area.
New Jersey Recognizes Two Types of Trespassing
There are two basic types of trespassing in New Jersey:
- Defiant trespassing – New Jersey Statutes (NJSA) 2C:18-3b explains that a person commits a petty disorderly offense if he or she had been notified against trespassing but still chose enter or remain in a place. The warning could have been verbal, through signage or via fencing designed to keep intruders out.
- Unlicensed entry of structures – a more serious crime than defiant trespassing, NJSA 2C:18-3a explains that “a person commits [unlicensed entry of structures] 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.
Peering: A Trespassing-Related Crime
The same section of the New Jersey Statutes also provides that peering is a crime in New Jersey. It’s unlawful to peer into a window or any other opening of a building “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.”
Because peering is such an invasion of privacy, it has the stiffest of penalties compared to other trespassing crimes.
Getting Trespassing Charges Dropped
New Jersey statutes provide three possible affirmative defenses for trespassing crimes. Affirmative defenses are those in which, once demonstrated, will mean that the charges are dropped. The three defenses are as follows:
- abandoned structure – the building in question was abandoned;
- opened to public – the building was open to the public at the time; and the accused was in compliance with all lawful conditions; and
- assumption – the accused believed that the owner would have given him or her permission to enter or remain on the premises.
Possible Penalties for Trespassing in New Jersey
Penalties for trespassing in New Jersey depend upon the type of charge:
- defiant trespassing – defiant trespassing is referred to as a petty disorderly offense and carries penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine;
- unlicensed entry of structures – this type of trespassing is most often considered a disorderly persons offense, which means up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if the crime was committed on school property or at a utility company, nuclear or chemical plant, or research facility, then it is a fourth-degree crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines; and
- peering – peering is a fourth-degree crime, which means up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Consult Dash Farrow LLP, Criminal Defense Firm in New Jersey
If you’ve been charged with trespassing in New Jersey, contact Dash Farrow, LLP for a case evaluation. Call 856-235-8300 for a consultation or contact us online to inquire about our services.
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“My case involved a neighbor who started a rock band in his backyard that played loudly during dinner time. When I asked the neighbor to consider turing it down, the neighbor completed Affidavits of Probable Cause against me for harassment and trespass. I am an attorney who handles civil matters, but I was told Mr. Farrow is one of the best criminal defense attorneys. I found him to be very understanding and responsive. His effectiveness is evident by the fact that everything was dismissed.”
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