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Understanding defenses to accusation of criminal trespass

Though likely not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about criminal charges, the consequences for criminal trespass can be harsh. If you or a loved one has been accused of criminal trespass, you should know that there are defenses you can raise to this charge or accusation.

Public or private necessity can also be argued. This might be used if you trespass in an emergency situation to protect the public good or to save or protect another person. How well this defense will work depends on the actual circumstances of your case. In addition, if you damage the property in the course of trespassing you could be held responsible for those damages.

You can argue that you trespassed in order to reclaim property that rightfully belonged to you. This defense is often used when someone takes or keeps something of yours unlawfully, and you go onto their property to retrieve it. Additionally, an “Act of God” can place your item on their property, and retrieving it may be acceptable under the law.

One of the most common defenses to criminal trespass is consent. In other words, you would argue that the person gave you consent to be on their property or to use their chattel. That consent can come in writing, but it can also be verbal. Keep in mind that minors or people who are mentally incapacitated are not able to give consent, so you can’t use that as a defense if the property owner fits either of those categories.

The most effective way to deal with charges of criminal trespass depends on the specific situation. Accordingly, it is a good idea to work with a criminal defense lawyer who can help you determine the best way to proceed.