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Can You Be Charged With Trespassing on Public Property on Long Island, NY?

Trespassing is the unlawful act of entering or remaining on another person’s property without their permission or consent. This includes both private and public property, such as homes, businesses, and public parks or spaces. In some cases, trespassing can also include the act of interfering with another person’s use or enjoyment of their property. If you have been charged with a trespass offense, seeking immediate legal advice is crucial, particularly when the offense involves public property. In such cases, an experienced Long Island trespass attorney can provide you with the necessary legal guidance to navigate the legal system and protect your rights. 

Edward Palermo, a well-respected Long Island trespass attorney, has dedicated his career to defending individuals charged with criminal offenses on Long Island. If you are facing serious criminal charges in Nassau County or Suffolk County on Long Island, securing serious legal representation is imperative. At Edward Palermo Criminal Defense, we understand the gravity of the situation and are committed to providing you with quality legal support. Contact us today at (631) 265-1052 for a free consultation to discuss your criminal case and explore your legal options.

What is Considered Trespassing under New York Law?

Trespassing laws are generally put into place to protect property owners from unauthorized access, damage, or theft of their property, as well as to maintain the safety and privacy of individuals. In many cases, the term “trespassing” implies criminal intent, meaning that the person knowingly and willingly entered or remained on the property without authorization. However, in some cases, trespassing can also occur unintentionally, such as when a person mistakenly wanders onto someone else’s land.

Types of Trespassing

There are several different types of trespassing, including:

  • Criminal Trespassing: This type of trespassing occurs when a person knowingly and intentionally enters or remains on another person’s property without their consent. In some cases, criminal trespassing may also include acts of vandalism, theft, or other criminal activity.
  • Civil Trespassing: This is a less severe type of trespassing that typically involves inadvertently or accidentally entering another person’s property without their knowledge or consent. In these cases, the person may be held liable for any damages caused to the property, but they may not face criminal charges.
  • Trespass to Land: This type of trespassing focuses on the unauthorized entry or occupation of private property. It often involves disputes between neighbors, such as encroachment on property lines or the unlawful use of shared resources.
  • Trespass to Chattels: This form of trespassing involves the unauthorized use, adamage, or theft of another person’s personal property, such as vehicles or tools. While this type of trespass may not involve physical entry onto someone’s property, it can still result in legal consequences.

It is crucial to distinguish between criminal and civil trespassing as the legal consequences for each type of offense vary significantly. Criminal trespassing involves intentional and often criminal acts and can result in fines, imprisonment, or other severe legal penalties. On the other hand, civil trespassing usually involves accidental entry onto someone else’s property, and while it may result in liability for any damages caused, it typically does not carry criminal charges. Knowing the difference between these two types of trespassing can help individuals navigate legal disputes and avoid potential legal repercussions.

Type of Trespassing Description
Criminal Trespassing Knowingly and intentionally entering or remaining on another person’s property without consent, may include criminal acts
Civil Trespassing Inadvertently or accidentally entering another person’s property without knowledge or consent, may result in liability for damages
Trespass to Land Unauthorized entry or occupation of private property, often involves disputes between neighbors
Trespass to Chattels Unauthorized use, damage, or theft of another person’s personal property

Trespassing on Private vs. Public Property

Trespassing laws apply differently to private and public property. While both types of property are protected under the law, there are some key differences in how trespassing offenses are handled.

  • Private Property: Trespassing on private property typically involves the unauthorized entry or occupation of land or buildings owned by an individual or entity. This includes homes, businesses, and other privately-owned spaces. Property owners have the right to deny access to their property and may pursue legal action against those who trespass. This can result in criminal charges, fines, or even imprisonment.
  • Public Property: Trespassing on public property refers to the unauthorized entry or use of land or spaces owned by the government, such as parks, schools, or government buildings. While these spaces are generally open to the public, there may be specific areas or times when access is restricted. Those who disregard these restrictions and trespass on public property may also face legal consequences, although they may be less severe than those associated with trespassing on private property.

It is important to be aware of the laws regarding trespassing and to respect the rights of property owners, whether their property is private or public. Taking steps to avoid trespassing, such as asking for permission before entering another person’s property, can help prevent potential legal issues and ensure the safety and security of everyone involved.

Understanding Public Property

Public property is any property that is owned by the government or its various branches, including federal, state, and local levels. This could be land, buildings, or other types of property that are accessible to the general public for use or enjoyment. Public property is managed and maintained by government agencies on behalf of the community, and it serves a variety of purposes ranging from parks and public spaces to government facilities and infrastructure.

One of the primary responsibilities of the government is to ensure that public property serves its intended purpose and that the rights and safety of the people are protected. Consequently, there are laws and regulations in place to ensure the responsible use and proper management of public property, including restricting particular activities that might infringe on the rights, safety, or privacy of others, disrupt the normal functioning of the property, or cause damage or harm.

One such activity that is generally restricted on public property is trespassing. Trespassing refers to entering or remaining on the property without the explicit permission or knowledge of the property owner or the person designated to grant such permission. In the context of public property, trespassing could involve entering restricted areas, overstaying or disobeying posted hours of operation, or accessing public spaces during events or situations when the property is temporarily closed to the public.

Laws Pertaining to Public Property in New York

In New York State, including Long Island, several laws address trespassing on public property. Under New York Penal Law Section 140.05, trespass is an offense in which an individual “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises.” This is a violation, which is a non-criminal offense but could still result in fines and other penalties upon conviction.

Furthermore, trespassing on public property may also be classified as criminal trespass under Section 140.10 to 140.20 of the New York Penal Code, depending on the specific circumstances of the incident. For example, criminal trespass in the third degree (section 140.10) and in the second degree (section 140.15) involve unlawfully entering a fenced-in or otherwise enclosed property or a building used as a dwelling, respectively. These offenses are classified as misdemeanors and involve more severe penalties, including potential jail time.

Local municipalities on Long Island may have their specific ordinances regarding trespassing on public property as well. These local regulations may stipulate additional restrictions or penalties for individuals who violate the rules and regulations governing public property areas.

Examples of Public Property on Long Island

Long Island, New York, has numerous public properties that residents and visitors can access and enjoy. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Public parks – Long Island is home to numerous local, state, and federal parks, which serve as recreational spaces for residents and tourists alike. Examples include Jones Beach State Park, Bethpage State Park, and Eisenhower Park.
  • Public beaches – The island’s shoreline boasts miles of publicly accessible beaches, such as Long Beach, Montauk Beach, and Robert Moses State Park.
  • Libraries – Long Island is home to several public libraries, offering resources and services to community members.
  • Government buildings – Facilities such as county courthouses, town halls, police stations, and fire stations serve essential functions in the community and are considered public property.

When accessing these public properties, it is crucial to respect the rules and regulations that have been established to govern their use. Unauthorized entry or remaining on these properties without proper permission could lead to trespassing charges or other legal consequences under New York State law.

Potential Scenarios for Trespassing on Public Property

Trespassing on public property can occur in various situations and under different circumstances. Public property includes places such as parks, government buildings, streets, and sidewalks. Although these places are usually accessible to the public, there can still be instances where individuals commit trespassing.

Entering Closed or Restricted Areas

Public properties often have designated hours of operation and access, and entering these areas after hours or when they are closed off can be considered trespassing. For example, a public park may close at a certain hour, and entering the park after it’s closed can be construed as trespassing.

Moreover, some public properties have restricted areas meant for authorized personnel only. Even though the property is public, certain portions of it may be limited to the general public. Ignoring signs or barriers that prohibit access and entering these restricted areas can be considered trespassing. For instance, crossing a barricade or security line to enter restricted areas of a government building or entering a construction site on public property without proper authorization can lead to trespassing charges.

Behavior and Activities that May Constitute Trespassing

In addition to entering closed or restricted areas, engaging in certain behaviors or activities on public property may also constitute trespassing. These activities or behaviors often involve violating any rules or ordinances set forth by local governments or property managers, which can include:

  • Disrupting the peace or quiet of a location through excessive noise, engaging in disorderly conduct, or causing a public nuisance.
  • Vandalizing public property by causing damage, graffiti, or breaking equipment or infrastructure, as this infringes on the rights of others to enjoy the public space.
  • Camping or setting up temporary housing in a public place that is not specifically designated or allowed, such as setting up a tent in a city park.
  • Loitering, which involves lingering or remaining on public property without a lawful purpose or having the owner’s permission to be there.
  • Blocking or obstructing public areas such as sidewalks, trails, or public rights of way, which prevents other people from using or enjoying these spaces.

If any of these actions or behaviors are undertaken intentionally, they can potentially lead to trespassing charges.

Potential Hazards Related to Trespassing on Public Property

Trespassing on public property can bring about various risks and hazards for both the trespasser and others. Some of these hazards may include:

  • Injury or harm to the trespasser, as restricted areas are often closed off for a reason, such as the presence of hazardous materials, unsafe conditions, or ongoing construction works.
  • Jeopardizing public safety, as unauthorized entry into restricted areas may cause disruptions or disturbances, leading to potential harm to others or damage to the property.
  • Legal repercussions that may involve fines, penalties, or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense and local laws.
  • Damaging community relations, as repeated trespassing can create tensions between the person involved and other members of the public, causing conflict and disturbance in the community.
  • Negatively impacting the public’s perception of an individual, particularly if the person has multiple trespassing offenses on their record.

In conclusion, trespassing on public property is a serious offense that can lead to legal penalties and other negative consequences. Understanding what constitutes trespassing, particularly in relation to entering closed or restricted areas, engaging in disruptive behaviors or activities, and being aware of the potential hazards associated with trespassing, is crucial to avoid conflict with the law and maintaining safety for all.

Legal Consequences for Trespassing on Public Property

Trespassing is the act of unlawfully entering, remaining, or otherwise infringing upon another person’s property. The legal consequences of trespassing on public property depend on the type and location of the property, the intent of the trespasser, and the applicable laws violated.

Possible Charges and Penalties

Under New York law, criminal trespass is a misdemeanor that carries potential penalties such as fines, probation, community service, or even incarceration. In some cases, violating specific statutes regarding public property can result in more serious charges or added penalties.

  • Trespassing charges: Generally, these charges are for simple trespassing, where the person unlawfully enters or remains on public property without permission or any intent to commit a crime therein. Penalties for simple trespass may include fines, court costs, and/or community service.
  • Criminal Trespass: Criminal trespass laws can vary from a misdemeanor to a felony, with the level of charges increasing when combined with other offenses. The charges for criminal trespass can be influenced by factors such as the type of building entered, the individual’s criminal record, and whether or not they were carrying a weapon.
  • Aggravated trespass: This occurs when the trespassing is accompanied by an intent to commit a crime or when the person is found in possession of burglary tools, weapons, or drugs. Aggravated trespass can carry heavier penalties, including jail time or probation. In New York, a person can be charged with Burglary in the third degree in this manner.

Certain public properties, like military bases or government buildings, have specific regulations and limitations for unauthorized access or presence. If someone trespasses in these areas, especially with criminal intentions, they could face severe charges such as terrorism-related offenses or felonies. Additionally, if someone has a history of multiple trespassing offenses, especially within a brief period of time, they may face more charges or stiffer penalties due to their repeated disregard for the law.

Defense Strategies in Trespassing Cases

Accused trespassers may have several defense strategies available, depending on the circumstances of their case. These may include:

  • Lack of intent: Arguing that the trespasser did not knowingly or intentionally enter the public property without permission can be a strong defense. Mistaken entry, confusion about the property’s boundaries or permissible uses, or being forced to enter the area against their will (e.g., by fleeing from a dangerous situation) can help support this defense.
  • Establishing a lawful reason for being on the property: If you were on the public property for a lawful reason, an attorney can help prove this to the court. For example, if you were there for a protest or other peaceful assembly, an attorney can argue that your actions were protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Necessity: In some cases, a trespasser may argue that the trespass was necessary to prevent immediate harm or danger to themself or others. This defense, if successful, can result in a dismissal or reduction of charges.
  • Permission or implied consent: If the individual had reason to believe they had permission or implied consent to be on the property, this can provide a strong defense. Examples include attending a public event, being invited onto the property, or relying on a previous agreement that granted access.
  • Inadequate signage or notice: Trespass laws often require that property owners post signs or give proper notice to exclude unwanted visitors. If the public property in question failed to provide adequate notice, the trespasser may argue they were unaware they were breaking the law.

An attorney can help build a defense strategy that best represents your interests and argues against the charges being brought against you. With the help of an attorney, you can work to minimize the potential consequences of the charges against you and fight for the best possible outcome for your case.

How an Attorney Can Help Defend Against Trespassing Charges

If you are facing trespassing charges in New York related to public property, an attorney can assist you in defending against these charges. Public properties, such as military bases or government buildings, may have additional regulations and restrictions for access or unauthorized presence. Trespassing in these areas, especially with criminal intent, can lead to more serious charges, such as terrorism-related offenses or felonies.

An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding your alleged trespassing, including whether you were lawfully on the property and whether the property owner had adequate signage indicating that the property was off-limits. If there were any issues with the property owner’s actions, an attorney may be able to argue that the charges should be dismissed.

In addition, an attorney can evaluate the evidence against you, including any witness statements or physical evidence. If there are inconsistencies or weaknesses in the evidence, an attorney may be able to challenge its admissibility in court. They can also build a defense strategy that best represents your interests and argues against the charges being brought against you.

An attorney can also negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf, potentially reducing the charges against you or reaching a plea bargain that avoids a trial. If your case goes to trial, an attorney can represent you in court, presenting evidence and arguments on your behalf.

Overall, having an attorney by your side can be invaluable when facing trespassing charges on public property in New York. They can provide you with guidance, support, and legal experience throughout the process, working to minimize the potential consequences of the charges against you.

Working with an Experienced Long Island Trespassing Defense Lawyer 

With years of experience navigating the complexities of the legal system, Long Island trespass lawyer Ed Palermo is well-equipped to provide you with the legal support you need to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. From conducting a thorough review of the evidence against you to negotiating plea deals with prosecutors, our team of legal professionals at Edward Palermo Criminal Defense works tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected and your interests are represented.

Don’t face your charges alone. Contact our office today for a free consultation and to take the first step towards securing a positive outcome in your case. Contact us at (631) 265-1052 or (516) 280-2160.