Westchester County Criminal Trespass Lawyer
When a person unlawfully enters another individual’s property without authority or permission to do so, they have committed the crime of trespassing. A person might also be charged with trespassing if they interfere with another individual’s use of their own property. One example of this would be enclosing part of the land in a fence without the authority to do so.
If you have intentionally entered or remained on another person’s property without permission, you might be charged with trespassing.
To achieve a trespassing conviction, the prosecution must prove two things:
- The defendant unlawfully entered another person’s land
- The defendant was aware that they were not allowed to be on the land
Some states won’t convict trespassers when they entered land that seemed to be unused or unimproved. If a landowner wants to keep a trespasser from entering their property, they should place signs or fences to let people know not to trespass there. If there were no signs posted, depending on the state, the defendant may have a legal defense and be found not guilty of the trespassing crime.
Consequences for Trespassing
In most cases, trespassing will be considered a criminal misdemeanor. This crime is one in which the victim might recovery damages in monetary form. The most common trespassing consequences are these:
- Imprisonment or short jail sentences
- Damages paid to the landowner for damage caused to the property
There are some states in which the property’s nature might determine how serious the offense is. For example, it would be more serious to trespass at a school than to trespass in a rural field. This is because school trespassing has the potential to cause harm or fear to children.
There are also some states that will raise a trespassing crime from misdemeanor to felony if the person trespassed on a construction site. Construction sites are exceptionally dangerous, especially for people who don’t have the authorization or training to be there. A person trespassing on a construction site poses a serious risk to both themselves and the workers.
If there were other crimes committed along with the original trespassing, the trespassing charge will most likely be heightened. For example, if you trespassed on a field and illegally smoked marijuana while there, you may face a higher trespassing charge than you would if you had simply trespassed on the field without marijuana use.
Legal Defenses for Trespassers
For the crime of trespass to have been committed, the person must have intended to enter another individual’s property with the full knowledge that they were not allowed to be there. If you didn’t intend to enter the property, you have a legal defense. One example would be if you wandered onto the property, or if you were thrown or pushed onto this property without intention of trespassing.
There are other potential defenses as well:
- You did have permission or a legal right to enter the property
- The owner had given consent for you to enter the property
- Entering the property was not intentionally
- No activity was obstructed or interfered with while you were inside the property line
If You’re Charged With Trespassing
If a trespassing charge has been leveled against you, you should get in contact with an attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys will understand the specific statutes in your state. They will also be able to review the facts of your case and explain your options going forward. These options might include settling out of court, going to trial, or aiming to have the charges peacefully dropped.
Generally, if you show that you’re willing to take responsibility for the trespassing, you won’t face incredibly harsh legal penalties. Responsibility includes owning up to the mistake, apologizing, and paying monetary damages without complaint.