What Are the Consequences of Felony Trespassing in New Jersey?

It’s a common misconception that trespassing is a relatively insignificant matter, and in some situations, it may not seem like a crime at all. However, criminal trespassing is a serious offense resulting in significant monetary fines and even possible jail time. Trespassing laws in New Jersey can be confusing. However, as a resident, it’s crucial to understand what isn’t allowed when it comes to being on someone else’s property. If you’ve been charged with criminal trespassing, it’s essential to enlist the help of an experienced Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help prevent costly penalties that can upend your life. Please continue reading to learn the potential penalties for felony trespassing in New Jersey. 

What Constitutes Criminal Trespassing in New Jersey?

Trespassing is defined as unlawful entry onto a property. If a person enters the premises with the intent to commit an offense, they can be charged with criminal trespassing. In New Jersey, there are three basic types of criminal trespassing:

  • Defiant trespassing. This occurs when an individual remains in an area or on a property after being warned not to trespass but still chooses to enter the property anyway. The warning could have been explicit (a verbal warning or through signage) that they aren’t allowed to be there. For instance, if a building posts a sign that says “keep out,” and you enter always, you can be charged with this type of criminal trespassing. It’s crucial to note that you can also be charged with defiant trespassing if you enter a property with an implied warning sign, such as a fence or other enclosure.
  • Unlicensed entry of structures. This occurs when an individual enters a building without authorization. Essentially, this category covers the full range of occupied buildings. These spaces may or may not be restricted areas. This crime is more serious than defiant trespassing due to the types of property that fall into this category of structures. For instance, a conviction for this crime can occur if you unlawfully entered a dwelling, a power generation facility, a waste treatment facility, a research facility, a public sewage facility, an airport sterile area, an operational area, etc.
  • Unlawful peering into windows. This crime is also known as “peeping.” It occurs when an individual looks into a window or other opening, violating the property owner’s or resident’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Dwelling places where this crime can take place include homes, hotels, motels, tents, and recreational vehicles.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Felony Trespassing?

Despite popular belief, criminal trespassing is a serious criminal offense that can expose you to harsh consequences that negatively impact your life. Defiant trespassing is a petty disorderly offense, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Unlicensed entry of structure is a disorderly person offense, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if the crime was committed on school property, a research facility, a nuclear chemical plant, or a utility company, it will be classified as a fourth-degree crime. As such, it’s punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Unlawful peering is also a fourth-degree crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If you’ve been charged with criminal trespassing, please don’t hesitate to contact a talented attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector, who can help build a solid defense and work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped.