New Jersey Trespassing Defense Lawyers
New Jersey Trespassing Defense Lawyers
Trespassing may sound as though it is a simple offense that you can handle without help by paying a fine or doing some community service. On the contrary, New Jersey trespassing charges, known as “unlicensed entry of structures” or “defiant trespasser,” can in many cases get you a jail term and fines as high as $10,000.
It’s a big mistake to take trespassing charges in New Jersey lightly. Whoever gets charged, whether an adult or a juvenile, should enlist the assistance of a defense attorney with experience in New Jersey municipal courts to help get the charge dismissed or otherwise resolved on favorable terms. A trespassing crime on your record will be immediately costly and could damage long term opportunities for career advancement, higher education, public assistance and more.
Possible Penalties for Trespassing in New Jersey
According to New Jersey law, there are two crimes commonly known as trespassing:
Defiant trespasser – This term refers to entering or hiding to remain in any location a person does not have authority to be in, and doing so in spite of “notice against trespass.” The notice could be a posted sign, a personal communication, or a fence or other enclosure obviously in place to exclude intruders. Defiant trespass is a petty disorderly persons offense, carrying a fine of up to $500.
Unlicensed entry of structures – On the other hand, this crime is a fourth-degree indictable offense that carries up to 18 months in prison and a fine as much as $10,000. Unlicensed entry of structures is characterized as entering or hiding to remain in any structure without express authority to do so if such property is a:
- Dwelling (like a house, an apartment or a condo)
- School building or other school property
- Research facility or separately secured or occupied portion thereof
- Utility company building or property
- Power generation facility or grounds
- Waste treatment facility or grounds
- Public sewage facility or grounds
- Water treatment facility or grounds
- Public water facility or grounds
- Nuclear electric generating plant building or property
- Any compound where hazardous chemical or chemical compounds are stored, generated or handled
New Jersey’s connected “Peeping Tom” offense — peeking into windows or other openings of a dwelling places — is also a fourth-degree offense, for which an offender may be jailed and heavily fined. The crime is characterized by peering (looking) “into a window or other opening of a dwelling or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation for the purpose of invading the privacy of another person and under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the dwelling or other structure would not expect to be observed.”
Without well informed legal counsel, you could easily be incarcerated and fined for the most harmless trespassing offense, or even for a complete misunderstanding or something you never even did. Bear in mind that prosecutors have a duty to secure convictions. It is not their job to tell defendants how to avoid a guilty verdict.
How We Can Help You Get Out of Trespass Charges
We are well aware of the fact that, regardless of the crime a person has been charged with, in the absence of a guilty plea, the prosecutor carries the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. We will work to make sure the prosecution’s case against you stands up or that it does not move forward.
Trespassing or peeping cases are first heard in municipal court. If the charge against you is unlicensed entry of structures or peering into dwellings, both indictable offenses, the case can be sent to the superior court in your county.
We will speak to the prosecutors in efforts to keep your case in municipal court as a disorderly persons charge, which translates to a much lighter penalty if convicted.
Usually, in trespassing cases, the accused is caught in the act. In other situations, increasingly, a defendant is identified by security camera imagery. That said, New Jersey’s trespassing laws offer three defenses to the charges described. A defendant should be exonerated if:
- The structure, dwelling, etc., in question was abandoned.
- The structure was open to the public at the time the defendant entered, or the defendant otherwise lawfully entered or remained inside the structure.
- The accused “reasonably believed” he or she would have had the owner’s or operator’s permission to enter or peek inside the structure.
Other possible defenses include:
- An alibi. In other words, you can establish that you were elsewhere when the trespassing or peeping allegedly took place
- Mistaken identity. For example, we can question the interpretation of poor-quality security camera footage
- Testimony from unreliable witnesses
- Proving that there was coercion, entrapment, or some inducement by someone else for you to commit the alleged crime
- Mental impairment (like intoxication or illness) at the time the alleged crime occurred that prevented understanding of right vs. wrong or the consequences of your actions.
If we are not able to get your case dismissed, we could potentially obtain a Conditional Discharge of the case. This is a probation arrangement, after which the case can get dismissed if you don’t get charged with another offense. This approach keeps your record clean of criminal convictions.
You could also potentially access New Jersey diversion programs such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or The Veterans’ Diversion program.
If you are facing trespassing charges anywhere in the state of New Jersey, call Spodek Law Group for a free review of your case. We can examine multiple options for keeping a criminal conviction off of your record.
Reach Out to Our N.J. Trespassing Defense Attorneys Today
If you are facing charges of trespassing or peeping in New Jersey, don’t risk potentially harsh punishment and a permanent record for a lapse of judgment or a misunderstanding. Get in touch with Spodek Law Group today.