In Washington State a misdemeanor Criminal Trespass 1st degree offense can have a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor you could be facing jail time and trouble securing employment in the future.
I have represented may defendants that have been arrested for Criminal Trespass in Bellevue and the Seattle area. Locations like Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square, Casino's, Shopping malls and the Muckleshoot Casino often issue notices of Trespass and have people arrested for violating these notices. These notices are often confusing or insufficient to out a defendant not notice that they are in violation of the notice. Many of these charges that occur in the City of Bellevue involve Kemper Security and the property of the Kemper Development Company. If you have been arrested in Lincoln Square for a charge of Criminal Trespassing in the first degree then you should watch the video below and seek out an attorney that is familiar with this very specific situation.
See John's recent KIRO TV appearance in a Criminal Trespass Case:
Criminal trespass in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the 1st degree if he/she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building.
(2) Criminal trespass in the 1st degree is a gross misdemeanor and punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
Criminal trespass in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the 2nd degree if he/she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the 1st degree.
(2) Criminal trespass in the 2nd degree is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 90 days in jail .
1) Non-Intentional Trespass:
The main issue in proving that someone is guilty of Criminal Trespass is the issue of "intentional" violation. RCW 9A.52.070 states that the person must "knowingly enter or remains" unlawfully in a building. You should take notice of the word "knowingly."
This means that a person cannot be convicted of Criminal Trespass in the first degree is they did not know they were breaking the law. The person must have been informed and understand that they were breaking the law. If you did not understand that you were breaking the law then you have a valid defense to the charge of Criminal trespass in the 1st degree.
"Conduct that the defendant believes to be necessary to avoid harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable, provided that.....the harm or evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged."
Confusing right? What does this mean?
Put simply, it means that you can trespass in order to avoid a greater harm. A classic example is docking a boat on private property during a storm. A person who docks their boat on private property during a storm has technically broken the law, but they did so to avoid possible damage to the boat or death. So this defendant would have a valid defense to the charge of criminal trespass.
But the example need not be that drastic. Perhaps you re-entered a bar to get your coat, your house keys or get a ride from a friend. Perhaps you had a valid reason to enter property which you knew you were not supposed to.