Unlawfully entering a structure or engaging in defiant trespassing is generally considered to be a disorderly persons offense. However, illegally entering a structure may be considered a more serious crime if an individual attempts to gain access to a home or research facility. The same may be true if a person attempts to get inside a nuclear power plant or other facilities that store or treat hazardous materials.
Enhanced penalties may also be imposed on a person convicted of peering into a dwelling. There are several possible defenses to a trespass charge such as claiming that it was necessary to look inside a home or remain in a building. A criminal trespass may not occur if it can be shown that a building was abandoned or that a person had permission from the owner to be on the premises.
A person who is charged with trespassing may not necessarily be guilty of the crime. An attorney may be able to show that a defendant had permission to be in a home or building or that he or she had a valid reason to look into a home’s window, vent or crawlspace. In some cases, this may be enough to have a case dismissed or to negotiate a favorable plea deal in the matter before a trial begins.