At face value, trespassing doesn’t seem to be a serious offense. People don’t realize that they could spend several years in prison for a trespassing conviction. What may have started out as a prank or a dare could now change your life forever. Fortunately, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help.
Trespassing involves entering property of which you have no legal right to enter. While some people post signs signaling “no trespassing”, no sign has to be present for a law violation to occur.
Under Pennsylvania criminal statutes (PA Code §18-3503), there are several different classifications of trespassing.
Pennsylvania Simple Trespassing Laws
This offense is defined as entering ore remaining in a place where you are not privileged to do so, for the purpose of:
- Threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant,
- Starting or causing to be started any fire,
- Defacing or damaging the property.
Simple trespassing is considered a summary offense and carries with it up to 90 days in jail and fines.
Pennsylvania Defiant Trespassing
A defiant trespasser is defined under Pennsylvania law as someone who enters or remains on the property where notice against trespassing is given by:
- Communication from an occupant or owner
- A sign
- A fence or other enclosure
- An order to leave
More serious than simple trespassing, this offense is considered a 1st degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines.
Pennsylvania Felony Trespassing
In some cases, trespassing is a 3rd degree felony. This means it carries a potential sentence of 7 years on prison. This charge is usually applied when the accused actually breaks into the property on which they are trespassing or if the area in which they are trespassing is a secured area.
There are yet other forms of trespassing including agricultural trespassing and agricultural biosecurity area trespassing.
As you can see, trespassing charges aren’t so simple, nor are they minor. A trespassing conviction could earn you a permanent rap sheet and potentially impact your personal and professional reputations. Explaining a charge like this to future employers could be difficult indeed.
If you are accused of trespassing, all hope is not lost. A defense attorney can help you minimize the negative impact these charges have on your life and help you get a potentially positive result in court.