Most people don’t spend their spare time reading up on trespassing laws. If you’ve moved to New Jersey from a different state, you may inadvertently commit a misdemeanor or crime in New Jersey that wouldn’t have had any penalties in your home state. It’s always a good idea to get to know a state’s laws and regulations. Below are a few of the things you should know about New Jersey’s criminal trespass regulations.


What Is a Criminal Trespass?


Are you unsure about whether you committed a criminal trespass? Let’s start with a general definition of trespassing. Trespassing can include (1) illegal entry or (2) refusal to leave after being given notice. Not all trespassing is criminal, though. Usually, trespassing results in a misdemeanor charge, which isn’t technically a crime. Nevertheless, you may still face fines and jail time.


When trespassing is a crime, it’s a fourth-degree criminal offense. You may have committed a criminal trespass if you illegally entered somebody’s home, or if you entered a place with human health and safety hazards. Examples include research facilities and sewage treatment plants. Criminal trespass laws also include looking into other people’s windows.


Disorderly Persons Offense


Under most circumstances, however, trespassing is considered a disorderly persons offense. These offenses are not technically crimes, but they can result in legal consequences. In fact, a disorderly persons offense can result in six months in jail and a $1000 fine. With trespassing, a disorderly persons offense usually happens when a person has illegally entered a place that isn’t dangerous or someone’s home.


Some trespasses fall under petty disorderly persons offenses. These usually happen when somebody is asked to leave a place and refuses to do so. The command to leave does not have to be verbal. For example, a fence or a “Keep Out” sign is considered enough notice to warrant a charge. This isn’t a crime, but the offense can lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.


What You Can Do


If you need legal advice about criminal trespass or other trespass laws, Leon Matchin can help. We’ll talk to you about your situation, examine the circumstances surrounding your trespass charge, and build your defense. Start by contacting us today at 732-887-2479 or [email protected].