New Jersey Criminal Trespass Law
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3; New Jersey criminal trespass complaints in central New Jersey municipalities including East Brunswick, New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, Old Bridge, North Brunswick, South Brunswick, South River, Monroe and Sayreville.
New Jersey Criminal Trespass violation; N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 may be a disorderly persons, a petty disorderly persons offense or a crime of the fourth degree.
Although criminal trespass is similar to burglary in that both offenses involve unlawful entries or unlawfully remaining in property, criminal trespass is less serious because the defendant does not enter or remain with the "purpose" of committing an offense in the property.
A defendant commits a disorderly persons offense when he or she enters in any "structure" - as opposed to a dwelling - knowing that he or she is not privileged to do so, unless the structure is a dwelling because then it is a fourth degree crime.
Under New Jersey criminal trespass law, a defendant commits a petty disorderly persons offense when he or she enters any place that gives notice against trespass knowing that he or she is not licensed to do so.
This is called a defiant trespass offense.
There are two possible defenses to defiant trespass.
First, that the structure was at the time open to members of the public and the defendant complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises.
Second, the defendant "reasonably believed" that the owner of the premises would have licensed him to enter or remain.
The difference between disorderly and petty disorderly charge in a criminal trespass, is that a "structure" is involved in disorderly persons while "any place" is involved in a petty disorderly charge.
New Jersey criminal trespass is a crime of the fourth degree if it is committed in a school or on school property, a dwelling or a research facility.
Here, the state must prove that the property was a dwelling; defendant unlawfully entered or remained in the dwelling; defendant had no license or privilege to enter or remain; defendant had "knowledge" that she is not privileged to enter on or remain in the property.
It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for either trespass in a dwelling or trespass in a structure that the dwelling or structure was abandoned.
In addition it is an affirmative defense that the structure was at the time open to members of the public and the defendant complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises.
Finally, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant "reasonably believed" that the owner of the premises would have licensed him to enter or remain.
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3; New Jersey criminal trespass indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.
Exposure for a Disorderly Persons Offense Only
A person convicted of this offense is subject to a fine of up to $1000 - $500 for petty disorderly - plus assessments to Victims of Crime Compensation Board and to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund of approximately $125.
Although a person convicted of this offense who has not been previously convicted of an offense is entitled to a presumption of non-incarceration, defendant may be sentenced up to six months in jail - 30 days for petty disorderly.
If a motor vehicle was used in the course of committing the offense, the court may suspend the defendant's driver's license up to two years.
If the defendant holds a public office, a conviction may result in forfeiture of office.
Expungement of a Disorderly Persons Offense Only
Provided defendant has not been convicted of more than three disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses, or defendant has not been convicted of an indictable offense, he or she may have their conviction expunged five years after sentence is carried out.
Statute of Limitations for a Disorderly Persons Offense Only
Prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after the offense is committed.
Prosecution commences when a warrant or other process such as a summons or complaint is issued.
Strategy for a Disorderly Persons Offense Only
The best case result for any type of charge is dismissal - no record and no fine - although more often than not it is not possible to procure such a favorable result for this offense.
If a dismissal is not attainable then the next best possible outcome would be a plea to a municipal ordinance, which will preclude one from sustaining the stigma that an offense attaches to one's record.
However, defendant will be fined by the Court, although fines for municipal ordinances are lower than are fines for disorderly persons offenses.
If this offense was committed while the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, defendant should consider entering some type of alcohol treatment or rehabilitation program before sentencing so the Judge can take into account that the defendant has undergone alcohol treatment when imposing a sentence.
Did You Know
New Jersey criminal trespass offenses do not apply to tenants even against persons who remain on the premises as delinquent taxpayers after a foreclosure.
Landlords cannot seek to remove unwanted tenants by filing criminal trespass complaints.
If you have any questions for a New Jersey criminal defense attorney about a New Jersey Criminal trespass charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.