How to Beat a Trespassing Charge
If you are facing a trespassing charge, you can probably get your case dismissed.
Trespassing charges are very common in New York City. Unless your case is unusual or you are charged with additional offenses, a skilled NYC criminal lawyer can likely convince the prosecution to drop your charges.
Even if you are charged with additional offenses, you still may be able to get all your charges reduced.
This guide discusses the most common trespassing charges in NYC and the outcomes you can expect.
The Common Trespassing Charges in New York City
The most common trespassing charges in NYC are Trespass, Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree, and Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree.
The least serious trespassing charge is simply called “Trespass.” Charged under P.L. § 140.05, Trespass occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises. Trespass charges often occur when a person is on a bus or train without a ticket or permission.
Trespass is a violation that carries a maximum sentence of 15 days in jail.
Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree
Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree (P.L. § 140.10) is the next most serious form of trespassing. It most often occurs when a person knowingly and unlawfully remains unlawfully in a building or real property that is fenced or enclosed to exclude intruders.
You’ll notice that, compared to the less serious Trespass violation, this charge requires you to remain in a building or “real property.” In other words, this charge occurs only when you are on land or a building and you don’t have permission to be there. Some examples include being at a baseball stadium or movie theater without tickets.
Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree is a Class B Misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.
Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree
The most serious common trespassing charge is Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree (P.L. § 140.15). This crime typically occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling. A dwelling is defined as a building which is usually occupied by a person
lodging therein at night. In other words, a dwelling is a residential building.
Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree is a Class A Midemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail.
Defenses to Trespassing Charges
Two defenses are often used with trespassing cases. First, a defendant can argue that he did not trespass “knowingly.” Second, a defendant can argue that his entering or remaining at a location was not “unlawful.” Although more defenses to trespassing can be used, these two are by far the most common.
The “Knowingly” Defense
To be guilty of any degree of trespassing, the prosecution must prove you trespassed “knowingly.” In other words they must have proof that you knew you did not have permission to be where you were.
If the location had insufficient signs to notify you that you were not permitted to be in a location, then you might have a good “knowingly” defense. Or, if all things considered, you were reasonable to believe that you had permission to be where you were, then you might also have a good “knowingly” defense.
A seasoned NYC trespass lawyer can assess the specifics of your case to determine if you have good “knowingly” defense.
The “Lawful” Defense
To be guilty of any degree of trespassing, the prosecution must prove that you were “unlawfully” in the area. Under New York law, a person “enters or remains unlawfully” in or upon premises when he is not licensed or privileged to do so.
The “lawful” defense often happens when someone calls the police and says you don’t have permission to be on the premises, but you have proof that you are entitled to be in the location. Or, a person says you don’t have permission to be on the premises, but another person with superior control or ownership of the property says you have permission to be there.
For example, say you know the owner of a car dealership, who tells you to meet him at his dealership’s garage. You go inside the garage, and a rude employee tells you that you don’t have permission to be there. You tell him the owner invited you, but the employee calls the police. In this case, you would have a great “lawful” defense that you were lawfully at the location.
Common Outcomes for Trespassing Charges
If you have a great defense, then the outcome you should be expecting for your case is a dismissal.
However, even if you don’t have a strong defense, you can probably get a great outcome. If a person faces common trespassing charge, a criminal lawyer can likely convince the prosecution to reduce or even dismiss the charges.
Need Help? Contact Us Today
If you are facing trespassing charges in NYC, contact us for a free consultation. We can evaluate your case to determine the best strategy to get your charges dropped as soon as possible.