The offense of criminal trespass requires a person to unlawfully enter the property of another or unlawfully remain on the property of another. In Washington State, there are two types of criminal trespass charges: criminal trespass in the first degree and criminal trespass in the second degree.Criminal Trespass in the First Degree:
According to RCW §9A.52.070, a person commits criminal trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building.
Penalties for Criminal Trespass in the First Degree in Washington:
Criminal trespass in the first degree is a gross misdemeanor, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000, or both.Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree:
According to RCW §9A.52.080, a person commits criminal trespass in the second degree if he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree.
Penalties for Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree in Washington:
Criminal trespass in the second degree is a misdemeanor, which RCW §9A.20.021 defines as punishable by up to ninety days in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both.Defending a Criminal Trespass Charge:
There are a number of ways to defend a criminal trespass charge. According to RCW §9A.52.090, Washington State recognizes four specific defenses to a charge of criminal trespass in both the first and second degrees:
- The building involved in the offense was abandoned;
- The property was at the time open to members of the public and the defendant complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining on the property;
- The defendant reasonably believed that the property owner, or someone else given authority over the property, would have given the defendant permission to enter or stay on the property; or
- The defendant was attempting to serve legal process (This defense applies only if (i) the defendant did not enter into a private residence or other private building and (ii) the entry onto the property was reasonable and necessary for service of the legal process).
Your defense strategy is crucial, and the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney is strongly advised.