Q: I am being charged with defiant trespassing, is it possible to lessen the charge or even to have it dropped?
Upon my own investigating I found that defiant trespassing applies to those found trespassing in areas that are clearly marked "closed" or clearly fenced to keep people out. My friends and I were found by the police in a baseball park that we had initially thought was public grounds (this was at night). I was informed afterwards that the park was private and that we were trespassing. There was no barrier or fence to stop us from entering from the sidewalk nor was there a sign stating that the property was privately owned and for people to keep out. When looked up online, I could not find an company/owner of the property nor times that it would be considered open. This is my first run-in with the police and I do not want a misdemeanor on my record for mistaking a property being public and entering unlawfully. I cooperated fully with the police and left without being handed a paper listing my charge - someone who was with me called the local municipality and found our charge.
A: Yes a lawyer should be able to help you get the result you want. That being said a dismissal is unlikely.
A: this is the statute to help you:
b. Defiant trespasser. A person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(3) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
c. Peering into windows or other openings of dwelling places. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree 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.
d. Defenses. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) A structure involved in an offense under subsection a. was abandoned;
(2) The structure was at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the structure; or
(3) The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the structure, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain, or, in the case of subsection c. of this section, to peer.
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