Whether done intentionally or unintentionally, individuals can find themselves wandering onto property owned by another. In most cases, this course has no real consequences but, in others, it can result trespass, criminal mischief, simple assault, robbery, heroin possession, unlawful possession of a weapon, carjacking, burglary, or other charges. In terms of criminal trespass under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3, the charge can come in the form of a fourth degree crime, a felony, or a disorderly persons offense. If you are facing the latter form, your case will be heard in the municipal court of South Orange, Montclair, East Orange, Newark, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn, Montclair, or whatever town you were arrested in. Conversely, felony charges of criminal trespass are heard in Newark at the Essex County Superior Court. What you need to know with respect to either pedigree of trespass offense is that, while you may have viewed your entry on the property as benign, the situation has obviously turned in a different direction. Don’t make another mistake by walking into court without experienced counsel. Call our Newark Defense Firm at 973-710-1520 for a free consultation regarding how we can help you.

Montclair NJ Trespassing Lawyers

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(a), fourth degree criminal trespass requires that the Essex County Prosecutor prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: that the defendant (1) entered or secretly remained; (2) in any school or school property, dwelling, 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, or utility company property; (3) while knowing that he or she was not licensed or privileged to do so.

Alternatively, a person also commits a crime of the fourth degree, under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(c), if: (1) knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so; (2) he peers into a window or other opening of a dwelling or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation; (3) for the purpose of invading the privacy of another person; (4) under circumstances in which a reasonable person in the dwelling or other structure would not expect to be observed.

Conversely, the State may charge an individual with a disorderly persons offense for criminal trespass. In those situations, the State is required to prove that the defendant, “knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, enters or surreptitiously remains in any research facility, structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, or in or upon utility company property.”

Another way for the State to charge you or someone you love with a disorderly persons trespass, under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b), would require that the defendant: (1) knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so; entered or remained in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:

a) Actual communication to the actor; or
b) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
c) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.

What are the Penalties for Trespassing in NJ?

If convicted of criminal trespassing in the fourth degree, a defendant faces up to eighteen (18) months in a New Jersey State Prison and a $10,000.00 fine. If convicted of a disorderly persons criminal trespassing offense, though less serious, a defendant will still face up to six (6) months in a Essex County Jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Lastly, if convicted of a petty disorderly persons offense for criminal trespass, a defendant will face up to thirty (30) days in a Essex County Jail and up to a $500.00 fine.

Call us at 973-710-1520 to speak to an attorney free of charge regarding your trespass offense.