It’s important to know that not every time someone comes on a property they are criminally trespassing. The law is very specific when it comes to what is or is not criminal trespass in PA. If the situation doesn’t fit the law, then the person on that land or in that property is not guilty of criminal trespass.
Criminal Trespass Laws in PA
The police charge folks with criminal trespass in Pennsylvania two different ways.
- First, a person is guilty of criminal trespass when that person:
- gains entry by subterfuge (trickery or false pretenses),
- or surreptitiously remains
in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion of the structure.
- Second, a person is guilty of criminal trespass when they
- break into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion of the structure.
- Further, the government must prove the accused knew that did not have permission to be there.
The facts in evidence determine whether or not a person is licensed or privileged to enter a building.
What is simple trespass?
A person is guilty of simple trespass when a person knows they are not privileged or licensed to enter, but nonetheless enters and remains, in any place for any one of the three following purposes:
- One, threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant of the premises.
- Two, starting or attempting to start any fire upon the premises.
- Three, defacing or damaging the premises.
What is defiant trespass in PA?
When a person knowing that they are not privileged or licensed to enter a premise, but remains on the premises or property despite notice against trespassing, is guilty of defiant trespass. For example, an employee of a business kicks you out but you won’t leave. That is defiant trespass. What is notice against trespassing depends upon the facts of the case. In the statute, there are six different methods to provide notice against trespassing.
- One, actual communication to the trespasser.
- Two, posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of the trespassers.
- Three, fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
- Four, notices posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person’s attention at each entrance of school grounds that visitors are prohibited.
- Fifth, an actual communication to the trespasser to leave school grounds.
- Sixth, placement of purple paint marks on trees or posts.
Defenses to trespass charges in PA
Sometimes the trespass is just an honest mistake. Sometimes it is about bad neighbors who just can’t get along. Other times the issue of the case surrounds permission. Who gave whom permission to go where and when and under what circumstances. All of these situations require a skilled attorney who can frame the witnesses against you into actually proving your innocence. That’s what we do. We turn the government’s witnesses into your witnesses. Call us today so we can talk more about the facts of your situation. 717-657-3900
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