Connecticut Trespassing Lawyer
At first glance, trespassing on someone’s property may not seem like such a big deal. Top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers routinely fight Greenwich, Darien and Stamford criminal trespass arrests on behalf of a wide variety of people: teenagers throwing a keg party in a public park or school parking lot, avid hunters and fishermen who accidentally end up chasing game on private property, or disgruntled spouses or employees who come back to their spouse’s or former employer’s properties to make havoc. Whatever the scenario, Connecticut lawmakers have outlawed trespassing and made the crime a serious misdemeanor charge in certain cases. So if you are arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Wilton, or New Canaan Connecticut for Criminal Trespass, you should contact a top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer to learn if and how you can get your Connecticut Criminal Trespass arrest dismissed as quickly as possible.
Statutory Definitions of Criminal Trespass & Respective Penalties
As any of the best New Canaan or Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys would agree, under the Connecticut penal code, there are three degrees of Criminal Trespass. All of them are misdemeanors, meaning that each degree of Criminal Trespass is punishable by one year in prison or less, depending on the degree charged. The most serious Connecticut Criminal Trespass charge is Criminal Trespass in the First Degree codified in C.G.S. § 53a-107 (click here to see the full statute). You can be arrested in Stamford or Ridgefield Connecticut for Criminal Trespass in the First Degree if you know you do not have the right to be on certain premises or public property, but you enter or remain there, after you were ordered by an authorized person to leave or to not enter in the first place. You can also be arrested in Connecticut for First Degree Criminal Trespass if you enter or remain in a building or premises while a restraining order, a Connecticut domestic violence protective order, or a foreign order is in place prohibiting you from doing so. First Degree Criminal Trespass is a Class A Misdemeanor and a conviction for this offense carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail, probation and $2,000 in fines.
As the very best Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers would explain, you can be arrested in Stamford or Westport Connecticut for Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree 53a-108 if you enter or remain on private or public property with knowledge that you do not have the permission or privilege to be there. The law is set forth in C.G.S. § 53a-108 (click here for the statute). While an arrest in Connecticut for First Degree Criminal Trespass requires an explicit communication to you to not trespass or stay on the property, no such notice is necessary for a Second Degree Criminal Trespass arrest in Connecticut. As the best Stamford Connecticut trespassing lawyers posit, this begs the question…well then, how is the trespasser supposed to know they were not allowed on the property, park, or parking lot? This is when it is critical to get a top Greenwich Connecticut criminal attorney involved. Second Degree Criminal Trespass is a Class B misdemeanor, which means if you are found guilty for a Second Degree Criminal Trespass 53a-108 arrest, then you can face up to 6 months in jail, probation and a $1,000 fine.
The least serious misdemeanor criminal trespass law in Connecticut is Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree, C.G.S. 53a-109. Under this law, you can be arrested in Darien Connecticut for Third Degree Criminal Trespass if—with actual knowledge that you are not permitted to do so—you enter or remain on private or public property that was designed to keep intruders out, or enter or remain on property to hunt or fish. So if you are caught hunting or fishing in Connecticut in an area not designated for such activity, or if you jumped a fence to get onto public property, then you can be charged with Third Degree Criminal Trespass. While 53a-109 Third Degree Criminal Trespass is the least serious misdemeanor, you should know that it is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in jail and $500.
Do I Need a Top Stamford Criminal Lawyer to Fight My Connecticut Criminal Trespass Arrest?
Top Stamford Connecticut trespassing criminal lawyers often get asked if a lawyer is really needed to fight an arrest for Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut criminal trespassing. The problem with going it alone with Criminal Trespass arrests in Wilton, Darien or Stamford Connecticut is that people can be misled into thinking that the arrest is not a big deal (sometimes by the arresting officer). But what these people don’t realize is that pleading guilty and paying a $50 fine to a misdemeanor brands you with a criminal record forever. Or a Connecticut state’s attorney or prosecutor might ask you to burn the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program when you actually have other alternatives to getting your case dismissed. Bottom line is that even petty misdemeanors such as criminal trespass carry jail time and fines, and should not be taken lightly. The experience and advantage of hiring any of the best Stamford Connecticut criminal attorneys for your Greenwich and Darien Criminal Trespass arrest will likely give you an edge over going it alone.
Fighting Criminal Trespass Arrests in Stamford Connecticut
The best Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers frequently fight Criminal Trespass arrests in Westport, Norwalk, and Wilton Connecticut. The key issues that these top Connecticut criminal lawyers focus on are the knowledge and intent of the accused. In fact, Connecticut Penal Code § 53a-110 spells out several permissible affirmative defenses to Criminal Trespass arrests. For example, did you reasonably believe that you had permission to be on the property or premises? Was the property abandoned? Were “No Trespassing” signs properly and reasonably displayed? Did you mistakenly trespass on the property? Were you properly and clearly notified that you were no longer allowed on the premises or in the department store? Did you have the required intent to damage property when you entered the premises? All of these questions must be examined closely by your top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyer. In addition to going over these questions, your top Connecticut criminal lawyer will carefully scrutinize the police reports, witness statements and surveillance video footage to determine whether the prosecutors and police can actually prove their case against you. The goal in fighting your Criminal Trespass arrest is to get your charge dismissed or perhaps have your Connecticut Criminal Trespass arrest reduced to a CGS 53a-110a Simple Trespass infraction charge. In every event, make sure you consult a top Danbury or Ridgefield criminal lawyer who will carefully review your entire case file with you, push back against heavy-handed prosecutors, and then sit with you to go over the most cost-effective defense strategy for your case.
Getting Your Criminal Trespass Misdemeanor Reduced to a Simple Trespass Infraction
One of the best-kept secrets in the criminal courthouse is that a top New Canaan or Darien Connecticut criminal lawyer may be able to get your misdemeanor criminal trespass arrest either dismissed, or reduced to a simple trespass infraction ticket—which is not a crime. Simple Trespass, as codified in C.G.S. 53a-110a, is very similar to criminal trespass and in many ways, the elements of these charges actually overlap. As the best Ridgefield Connecticut criminal lawyers would confirm, Simple Trespass, like any degree of Criminal Trespass, requires that you have knowledge that you are not allowed to be on the property. Simple Trespass, however, is narrower in scope and only applies to scenarios where you enter the premises without any intent to harm any property. It does not apply to situations where you remain on the premises. Furthermore, Simple Trespass requires that the individual entering the premises must lack intent to harm property. It is an infraction, so you cannot be arrested, booked, fingerprinted or photographed in connection with a summons for 53a-110a Simple Trespass in Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut. And if you are found guilty or plead guilty by mail, the worst that could happen is you will have to pay a fine.
So who decides whether you are charged with 53a-110a Simple Trespass or arrested in Stamford, Greenwich or Darien Connecticut for misdemeanor Criminal Trespass? The answer: the police and the prosecutors. The best Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys know that police and prosecutors have wide discretion to select the charges that will inevitably hang over your head during the Connecticut criminal court process. And if you are arrested for misdemeanor Criminal Trespass in Stamford, Wilton, or Danbury Connecticut, your top Stamford and Danbury criminal lawyer can sometimes convince the prosecutor to reduce the misdemeanor to the infraction so that you do not have to plead guilty and have a criminal records. The infraction is charge is so broadly written and construed by criminal courts that it can encompass thousands of scenarios, and hopefully apply to your case. In these situations where a reduction of charges is possible, it is helpful to have your New Canaan or Ridgefield criminal trespass attorney by your side to persuade the prosecutor that you lacked the intent to harm any property and therefore, your charges should be dismissed altogether, or at the very least, reduced to a CGS 53a-110a Simple Trespass infraction.
Using the Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (“AR”) to Fight A Criminal Trespass Arrest
Another option your top Stamford Connecticut criminal trespass lawyer attorney may discuss with you is applying for the Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (“AR”) to fight your Connecticut Criminal Trespass arrest. This is usually a good strategy when you are facing a tough Connecticut prosecutor who will not reduce or drop your Connecticut Criminal Trespass charges. Put more simply, the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program takes the case out of the prosecutor’s hands and asks the judge to suspend the prosecution of the case for a period of time, and then dismiss the Criminal Trespass case in its entirety, no matter what the prosecutor says (so long as you don’t get arrested or violate the terms and conditions of your AR Program). An Accelerated Rehabilitation Program takes a bit of work on your attorney’s part. Your top Darien and New Canaan criminal lawyer must convince the judge that you are not likely to offend again. If the judge grants your AR application, then you will be subject to supervision of the court for a time period of up to two years, while you comply with the judge’s other pre-set conditions, which can include community service, charitable donations, or alcohol and drug counseling. Once you have successfully completed your AR, then the court will dismiss your Criminal Trespass arrest and clear your record completely. It is a program with a guaranteed result of dismissal—all the more reason you should consult any of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers to learn if your Stamford or Norwalk Criminal Trespass arrests qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program in Connecticut.
Criminal Trespass Arrests for Juveniles & Teenagers
The top New Canaan, Greenwich and Darien juvenile criminal lawyers and attorneys frequently see Criminal Trespass arrests in Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan Connecticut of teenagers who attend underage drinking parties in abandoned or empty homes and buildings. The problem here is that the party space might be the home of a neighbor who is away on vacation, doing renovations on their home, or is an abandoned property, a public beach, or town park that you did not have permission to enter. And on top of Criminal Trespass charges, you can also be charged with possessing alcohol as a minor in violation of C.G.S. 30-89 (also known as Minor in Possession). These may not be serious offenses, but to a teenager, it could result in school discipline proceedings such as suspension, and damage to your child’s reputation, career prospects and college applications. If you are under 17 years old, the criminal process will proceed in juvenile court (click here for more info on the Stamford juvenile court process). However, if you are 18 or older, then your Criminal Trespass arrest will be in adult court and public record, subject to internet searches and background checks. Therefore, if you or your child has been arrested for Criminal Trespass for attending an underage drinking party, then you should contact a top New Canaan, Darien, or Wilton juvenile criminal attorney to discuss your options in keeping your child’s criminal record completely clean.
Don’t Let Your Criminal Trespass Arrest Be Raised to a Connecticut Burglary Charge
While it is always a good result when your criminal charges are reduced by a Connecticut prosecutor, there are times when charges can get upgraded and raised to something more serious. One area of concern for top Stamford and New Canaan Connecticut criminal lawyers defending criminal trespass arrests is the overlap between the crimes of Criminal Trespass and Burglary—a much more serious felony charge in Connecticut. At first blush, the two crimes might appear similar, as they both involve entering a home or property without permission. But that’s where the similarities end. Connecticut Burglary arrests—unlike Criminal Trespass arrests in Connecticut—require that you enter a property with the intention of committing a crime inside the building or dwelling you entered.
As background, there are three degrees of Burglary crimes in Connecticut. For example, if you are accused of using a deadly weapon during the Burglary, then you will be charged with First Degree Burglary under CGS 53a-101. If, however, there was no weapon involved, but you entered an occupied home, then you would be arrested for Burglary in the Second Degree per CGS 53a-102. The least serious Burglary charge of Burglary in the Third Degree – CGS 53a-103, can be charged if you merely enter a home or building with the intention to commit a crime inside. These are all felony charges and carry very stiff jail sentences, so make sure you speak to a top Stamford Connecticut burglary criminal lawyer if you feel that your Connecticut Criminal Trespass arrest has the potential to be escalated to a Burglary charge. Click here for more information about how serious recent Greenwich Connecticut arrests for Home Invasion and Burglary charges have affected Fairfield County communities.
Contact An Experienced Stamford Criminal Trespass Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
As you can see, you have many options in fighting your Stamford Connecticut arrest for Criminal Trespass in the First, Second, and Third Degrees. But each option usually starts with the same first step—consulting a Connecticut criminal lawyer experienced in handling these types of cases. So give a call to any of the criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law today. Our rates are reasonable and we are focused on one thing: results. Our goal is to get your Connecticut Criminal Trespass arrest dismissed or reduced as quickly as possible. Also, our “two-attorney” review guarantee ensures that your entire file is reviewed by at least two of our firm’s criminal lawyers so that no detail or piece of evidence gets overlooked. So give the Mark Sherman Law Firm a call today.