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What Are the Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in New Jersey?

When you own property, especially a home, you want to feel like it is your safe space. You do not want intruders or unwelcome guests. That is why “private property” and “no trespassing” signs are often seen at property entrances. Entering another person’s property unlawfully can land you in serious trouble. If you were arrested for trespassing and are facing criminal charges, you need to acquire skilled representation. Reach out to an experienced Bergen County criminal defense attorney to begin forming a strong defense for your case.

What is Criminal Trespassing?

Criminal trespassing is a type of property crime where a person enters another property that does not belong to them and that they do not have permission to enter. Criminal trespassing can be a fourth-degree indictable crime or a disorderly persons offense, depending on the specifics of the situation.

Although many post signs warning people to stay off of their property, it is not a requirement. Even if there was no written warning a person can still be found guilty of trespassing. There are three types of criminal trespassing, as explained below.

  • Unlicensed entry: Unlicensed entry of structures is a crime that can be committed when a person enters and/or remains in a structure without authorization to be there. This can include homes, research facilities, parts of buildings, etc.
  • Defiant: Defiant trespassing occurs when a person has been warned not to enter the property but they do so regardless. The warning could have come in the form of a posted sign or verbal warning. Implicit warnings are also considered. For example, if there is a fence around the property it is implied that it is present to keep people out. Disregarding any of these signs is defiant trespassing.
  • Peering: Peering is considered the most serious form of trespassing. Peering occurs when a person looks into an opening of a building or structure under circumstances where a person inside would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Will I Go to Jail for Criminal Trespassing in NJ?

In short, yes you may go to jail for criminal trespassing in New Jersey. Without knowing the specific details of the circumstances there is no way to tell whether or not certain charges will result in jail time. However, there are standard consequences for each type of criminal trespassing, as outlined here.

Unlicensed entry is generally a disorderly persons offense and is punishable by fines of $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. If it was committed in a research facility, school, or nuclear chemical plant it is a fourth-degree crime and punishable by fines of $10,000 and 18 months in prison.

Defiant trespassing is a petty disorderly offense and is punishable by fines of $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Peering is a fourth-degree indictable crime and is punishable by fines of $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison.

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