Trespass Charges

Monmouth County Trespass Offense Defense Lawyers

no trespassing sign on a fence

The police in Monmouth County are writing more and more criminal complaints for trespass, especially in municipalities that are summer hot spots like Manasquan, Lake Como, Belmar, Sea Girt and Asbury Park. A trespassing offense targets not only the classic trespasser but also those who have been denied entry to bars and fail to disburse or individuals who attempt to sneak into establishments to avoid a cover charge or because they lack proper identification. Another reoccurring scenario is someone who enters the wrong summer rental because they are unfamiliar with the dwelling or as a result of intoxication. Irrespective of the facts that resulted in your being arrested and charged with trespass in Monmouth County, selecting an attorney who has thorough knowledge and skill to defend you is your best option for counteracting the risk of conviction.

The lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have what you need to successfully represent you anywhere in Monmouth County. We are a team of nine criminal attorneys, most of which are former prosecutors, that have been defending trespass charges at the Monmouth County Superior Court and in municipal courts throughout the region for over 100 years combined. If you were charged with criminal or defiant trespass, we have extensive experience handling cases like yours and decades of relationships built throughout the court system to bring to the table so you reach the best outcome in your matter. Contact our Red Bank Office at (732) 450.8300 for a free consultation with a lawyer on our team.

Charged With Trespass in Monmouth County

There are a wide range of settings in which someone can be charged with trespass under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3. Conduct must fall within one of three categories in order to be convicted under this law.

I. Criminal Trespass

  • When Does Someone Commit Criminal Trespass? An individual commits criminal trespass, also referred to as unlicensed entry into a structure, under 2C:18-3a “if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or surreptitiously remains in any research facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, or in or upon utility company property, or in the sterile area or operational area of an airport.”
  • What Are The Material Elements The Prosecutor Must Establish To Move Criminal Trespass Offense? There are four elements that must be established beyond reasonable doubt to prove an offense filed in accordance with 2C:18-3a. First, there must be a structure. Second, the state must prove that the defendant unlawfully entered or surreptitiously remained in the structure. Third, the accused must have lacked a license or privilege to enter or remain in the structure. Fourth, the defendant must know that they lack a license or privilege to occupy the structure.
  • How Is A Criminal Trespass Charge Graded In Severity? A conviction for violating 2C:18-3a is a fourth-degree crime if the structure is: (1) a dwelling (i.e. place where a person resides and sleeps); (2) school or school property; (3) research facility, power generation facility, waste treatment facility, public sewage facility, water treatment facility, public water facility, nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds; (4) utility company property; or (5) sterile area or operational area of an airport. In all other instances, criminal trespass is a disorderly penalties offense.
  • What Are The Penalties For Criminal Trespass? A conviction for fourth-degree criminal trespass at the Monmouth County Superior Court in Freehold results in a fine of up to $10,000, up to 18 months in prison, probation, community service, mandatory court assessments, restitution and/or a driver’s license suspension. Failure to successfully defend the charge also results in a felony criminal record. When criminal trespass is graded as a disorderly persons offense, all of the penalties are essentially the except that the fine is capped at $1,000 and the period of incarceration is up to 6 months. An individual is also left with a criminal record for a misdemeanor if they are convicted of a disorderly persons offense for trespass.
  • Are There Affirmative Defenses To A Criminal Trespass Offense? Yes. N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3d sets forth defenses that are available to someone charged with trespassing. The first defense is that the property has been abandoned by the owner or possessor. In accordance with State v. Crutcher, 169 N.J. 94 (2001), a property that has been vacant for a considerable period, is uninhabitable and has no utilities can be considered abandoned. Conversely, a structure is not abandoned if it is suitable for occupancy. The second defense is that the structure was open to the public and the accused complied with all “lawful conditions” for access or occupation of the structure. The third defense to a criminal trespass charge is that the actor reasonably believed that he had permission from the owner to enter the structure.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall represent clients facing trespass charges in Belmar, Howell, Middletown, Marlboro, Manalapan, Freehold Township, Long Branch, Neptune, Tinton Falls, Wall, Aberdeen, Holmdel, Hazlet, Aberdeen, Red Bank, Asbury Park, West Long Branch, Matawan, Manasquan and elsewhere in Monmouth County.

II. Defiant Trespass

  • When Does Someone Commit Defiant Trespass? An individual violates N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3b by committing the offense of defiant trespass if they enter or remain in a structure when they know they lack a license or privilege because the rightful possessor/owner communicated the lack of a right to enter or occupy, a no trespass sign or notice was posted or there is fencing or another enclosure manifesting an intention to prohibit entry.
  • What Does The Prosecutor Have Prove To Convict Someone Of This Form Of Trespass? There are four elements that the state must establish in order to prove this pedigree of trespass. First, the prosecutor must prove that the accused entered or remained on property. Second, the defendant must have lacked a privilege or license to enter or remain on the premises. Third, the accused must know that he/she lacks permission occupy the structure. Fourth, the actor must have received actual notice that they were trespassing from the owner, observed a no trespass sign or other notice or been on notice of a fence or other barrier demonstrating that the owner sought to preclude unauthorized entry.
  • Notice Required Under 2C:18-2b? In order to convict someone under 2C:18-2b, they must receive notice that they are trespassing. Notice must be accomplished by direct communication, posting of signs that would be expected to reasonably provide notice or as the result of fencing, enclosures or barriers that demonstrate an intention to prohibit intruding.
  • Can An Authorized Entry Turn Into A Defiant Trespass? Yes. An individual cannot engage in activities that exceed the license granted by the owner.
  • What Are The Penalties For Violating 2C:18-3b? Defiant trespass is a petty disorderly persons offense. The municipal court judge in Wall, Long Branch, Red Bank, Freehold and Eatontown can impose an array of penalties if you are convicted of trespass. You can be sentenced to 30 days in the Monmouth County Jail, fined, placed on probation, required to perform community service, undergo counseling, pay restitution and even have your driving privileges suspended. A conviction will also leave you with a criminal record that future employers, immigration authorities, licensing boards and other entities will see when they perform a background check.
  • Are There Defenses To Defiant Trespass? Yes. Lack of proper notice is the first potential defense. The second defense is that the property was open to the public and the accused did nothing to violate the privilege or license. The third defense is reasonable belief by the defendant that he/she had permission to enter and/or remain on the premises. The fourth and final defense to this type of trespassing offense is abandonment of the structure.

III. Peering Into Windows or Openings

  • When Is Trespass Under 2C:18-3c Committed? An individual violations N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3c “if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he peers 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.”
  • How Does The Prosecutor Prove This For Of Trespass? In order to prove this offense, the state must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that: (1) the location of the conduct was a dwelling or other structure for overnight accommodation; (2) the accused peered into a window or other opening in the structure; (3) knowing that he/she had no privilege or license to peer into the window or opening; (4) the defendant’s conduct was with the purpose of invading the privacy of the victim; and (5) the victim would not expect to be observed.
  • What Are The Penalties Trespassing By Peering? A violation of 2C:18-3c is a fourth degree crime. A conviction results in a felony criminal record and the penalties set forth above for criminal trespass.
  • What Defenses Applying To Peering or “Peeping”? There are several defenses to trespass by peering or peeping. The first defense is that the location of the window or opening was open to the public. The second defense is that accused reasonably believed he or she had permission to be in the area where the opening/window was located. The third defense is that there was no purpose to invade the privacy of the victim. The fourth defense is that the victim lacked an expectation of privacy.

Relation To The Offense Of Burglary. Trespassing is similar to burglary in that both offenses contemplate an unauthorized entry of a structure. The primary distinction between the two charges stems from the fact that a burglar must enter the structure for the purpose of committing a criminal offense. All other elements are the same. As a result, it was held in State v. Singleton, 290 N.J.Super. 336 (App.Div.1996), that criminal trespass is a less included crime of burglary. As a result, you cannot be convicted of both criminal trespass and burglary in the same case.

Relationship To Domestic Violence. Trespass constitutes an act of domestic violence when it is committed against a victim who qualifies for the protections set forth under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act. An individual can be the subject of a restraining order and forfeiture of his/her right firearms and other weapons when an incident of trespassing constitutes domestic violence.

Experienced Trespassing Defense Lawyers in Red Bank NJ

The incident of trespass charges seems to grow every year in Monmouth County. A primary factor in the increased volume of trespassing offenses stems from the fact that many area municipalities have found 2C:18-3 to be a valuable law enforcement tool. If you were charged with trespassing in Tinton Falls, Brielle, Neptune City, Howell, Middletown or any other location in the county, the defense lawyers at firm are certainly capable of protecting your future. An attorney who has defended countless municipal court and indictable criminal charges, including the numerous former prosecutors on staff, will fight to secure the best resolution of your charge/offense for trespassing. This may come down to one of our attorneys utilizing years of experience and long standing relationships throughout the court system to negotiate an acquittal to your 2C:18-3 offense. In other instances, a favorable resolution may come down to an accomplished attorney winning at trial. Irrespective, you know when you hire The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall that you will be represented by a lawyer with the ability to fully protect your interests and future.

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