Serving Scranton, Tunkhannock, and Wyoming County
When a District Attorney, Pennsylvania Attorney General or United States Attorney or a police officer decides to bring a criminal charge against you, you have to be prepared to protect your rights from the very beginning. Being accused of a criminal offense sets off a string of complicated procedures and may implicate several Pennsylvania statutes. Possible crimes include Burglary, Criminal Trespass, and Theft. If you wait until later to find an attorney to represent you, you can damage your defense. If the state has charged you with any crime in Northeastern Pennsylvania, contact the Peters Law Firm immediately for a burglary & trespassing defense lawyer.
The Pennsylvania crimes code defines Burglary as the illegal entry into a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime inside. The prosecutor, to prevail in court on the charge of Burglary, has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with the crime entered a building without lawful permission; and additionally, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant decided to commit a criminal offense inside the building and went in to do so. The defendant does not have to be successful in carrying out the intended crime in the building or complete the offense. Mere entry with the required criminal intent is enough for the Commonwealth to get a conviction.
Pennsylvania statutes consider Burglary as a felony with the penalties depending upon the circumstances of the offense. If the building is a home, the Commonwealth will charge a defendant with a first-degree felony. However, if the building is not adapted for overnight accommodation, i.e., a business, then the state is limited to charging as a felony of second-degree. Penalties also differ depending upon whether or not another person who is not an accomplice to the crime is present at the time of the entry.
Criminal Trespass, Defiant Trespass, and Simple Trespass
When it comes to Criminal Trespass. Pennsylvania’s statute defines the offense as “knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so,” he enters or remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied structure (such as a garage) or breaks into any building or occupied structure. Criminal Trespass of a building will be charged as either a second-degree felony or a third-degree felony depending on the type of building and whether or not another person who is not an accomplice to the crime is present at the time of the entry. If the defendant entered a property that he was told not to enter, that was visibly posted indicating that no persons are to enter; with disregard for a locked gate or fence, then he or she may be found guilty of Defiant Trespass, which may be charged as a misdemeanor.
Simple Trespass, a summary offense, involves knowingly entering or remaining in any place to threaten or terrorize the occupants, starting or causing to be started or to do damage to the premises. When the offense involves agricultural land or areas used for agricultural biosecurity, then Pennsylvania statute also defines the crime differently. Penalties of jail time and fines vary depending on the type of trespass.
A charge of burglary or trespassing is not something you should ignore. The Peters Law Firm provides effective criminal defense in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. In the Scranton area, contact us at (570) 963-1610, Tunkhannock and Wyoming County at (570) 836-0700 or throughout Northeast Pennsylvania at our main office in Clarks Summit by calling (570) 585-0707 or by visiting us. We can provide you with an initial consultation where we will take the time to listen to the facts and help you figure out what your next step should be.