Criminal Trespass

There are multiple types of criminal trespass in Pennsylvania. All types of criminal trespass require that the actor knew that he was not licensed or privileged to be inside a building or on a property.

Felony criminal trespass in a building or other occupied structure

There are two different types of felony criminal trespass:

  • Criminal trespass is a felony of the third degree when the perpetrator enters or hides in a building or other occupied structure. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 7 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine.
  • Criminal trespass is a felony of the second degree when the perpetrator breaks into a building or other occupied structure. "Breaking in" includes entering by force, breaking, intimidation, bypassing locks or through an opening not meant for human access. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine.

Defiant trespass

This charge requires that an actor enters or remains on a property where notice is given against trespass. The grading of the crime depends on how the notice was given

  • If notice was given by actual communication to the actor then the defiant trespass charge is a summary offense carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days of incarceration and a $300 fine. Except that the offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree if the actor defies an order to leave the property given to him by the owner or authorized person in which case the charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine.
  • If notice was given by posting then the defiant trespass charge is a summary offense carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days of incarceration and a $300 fine. Except that the offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree if the actor defies an order to leave the property given to him by the owner or authorized person in which case the charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine.
  • If notice was given by fencing or other enclosure designed to keep people out then the defiant trespass charge is a summary offense carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days of incarceration and a $300 fine. Except that the offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree if the actor defies an order to leave the property given to him by the owner or authorized person in which case the charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine.
  • If notice was given by posting on school grounds then the defiant trespass charge is a summary offense carrying a maximum sentence of 90 days of incarceration and a $500 fine. Except that the offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree if the actor defies an order to leave the property given to him by the owner or authorized person in which case the charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine.
  • If notice was given by actual communication to leave school grounds then the defiant trespass charge is a misdemeanor of the first degree and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine

Simple trespass

This crime requires that the actor enter or remain in any place for one of the following purposes:

  • To threaten or terrorize the owner or occupant of the property
  • To start a fire
  • To deface or damage the property

Simple trespass is always a summary offense with a maximum sentence of 90 days of incarceration and a $300 fine.

Agricultural trespass

This charge applies to any agricultural or open land and requires that a person enter or remain on the property without permission. "Agricultural" or "open land" is defined as any land on which agricultural activity or farming is conducted or any land with forest trees that are capable of producing timber or other land as defined by law. The grading of agricultural trespass depends on how notice of trespass was given

  • If notice was given by posting or enclosure then the charge is a misdemeanor of the third degree which carries a maximum sentence of 1 year of incarceration and a $2,500 fine. There is a mandatory fine of $250.
  • If a person defies an order not to enter or to leave that has been personally communicated to him by the owner of the land or an authorized agent then the charge is a misdemeanor of the second degree which carries a maximum sentence of 2 years of incarceration and a fine of $5,000. There is a mandatory fine of at least $500.

Defense

There are statutory defenses to the crime of criminal trespass.

  • The building or other occupied structure was abandoned at the time that the actor entered
  • The property was open to the public at the time that the actor was present and the actor complied with all rules about entering or remaining on the property
  • The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the property would have allowed him to enter or remain

Criminal trespass can be a serious crime. It is very important that you speak to an attorney about how best to handle your case.

Call our criminal defense lawyers in Reading, PA at 610-372-5128 or submit your case using the "Ask an attorney" link.