C.G.S. § 53a-108 – Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree
C.G.S. § 53a-108 is the statutory citation for Connecticut's trespassing statute. There are four levels of trespassing in Connecticut. The lowest level of trespassing, simple trespass is not even a criminal offense it is an infraction. The other three degrees of trespassing are criminal offenses. Trespassing in the second degree is the mid- level criminal trespassing offense. While we have several forms of trespassing laws in Connecticut, they all share essential common elements.
Trespassing in the second degree is a very commonly charged crime in Connecticut and arises in numerous factual situations. Connecticut law protects and defends the sanctity of an individual’s private property against intruders who have a right to enter or remain on their property. We see trespassing in the second degree charges often employed when people were never asked to leave property and had no opportunity to do so. Clients often are perplexed because they often had no idea that they were even trespassing in the first place.Elements of the Crime Which Must be Proven by The Prosecution
There are three levels of trespassing in Connecticut. Trespassing in the second degree is the mid-level strangulation offense.
In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of a violation of C.G.S. § 53a-108 the state’s attorney must prove the following:
Two situations:Situation One
- Knowing that he has no right to do so,
- The defendant enters or remains in a building;
- Knowing that he has no right to do so,
- The defendant enters or remains on public lands.
A man decides to go to a public housing project to socialize with some other individuals who are drinking in the courtyard. No one is a resident of the housing project. There is a clearly posted sign that says no trespassing at all entrances. A passing police officer notices the activity and arrests them all for criminal trespass in the second degree. The man could be charged with trespassing in the second degree because he knowingly entered into housing project where he had no right to had no right to enter.
A city park has a sign that says it closes at 9:00 p.m. Several people enter the park around midnight and have a small party. They are drinking beers and listening to music. The people could be charged with criminal trespass in the second degree because they knowingly entered the park after 9:00 p.m. when the park was closed.
A group of photography enthusiasts from New York travel to Connecticut to take photographs of a abandoned building for its architectural design. A passing police office takes notice and arrests the men for criminal trespass in the second degree. These men could not be convicted for criminal trespass in the second degree because the building was abandoned. You can not be prosecuted for trespassing in an abandoned building.Related Offenses
- Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-116 – Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree
- Connecticut General Statutes §53a-110a - Simple Trespass
- Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-103 – Burglary
There are several many effective legal defenses to trespassing allegations. The statute itself creates several affirmative defenses to trespassing.
C.G.S.§53a-110 sets forth 3 statutory affirmative defenses to trespassing allegations. As with any other affirmative defense the accused has the burden to prove the facts which support the existence of the affirmative defense but the standard of proof is lower than that required for a criminal conviction. The accused need to prove the affirmative defense by the preponderance of the evidence. Generally, most police officers would be expected to not arrest someone for criminal trespass in one of these situations, but they have the right to do so. Similarly, we would hope that a state’s attorney would not prosecute a case for criminal trespass under these three circumstances.Affirmative Defenses
- The building was abandoned.
- The Premises were open to the general public and the accused complied with all reasonable conditions to access to and remaining upon the premises.
- The accused believed that he was authorized to enter the premises or believed that the owner or their agent had authorized the accused to enter the premises.
Since this offense requires a mental element of criminal intent there are many opportunities to defend against prosecutions for criminal trespass where the accused acted without the required level of intent. Often people accused of this crime did not see trespassing signs and were totally unaware that they were not authorized to be there. In any criminal prosecution the state has the burden to prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Often a skilled Connecticut criminal defense attorney can negotiate to lower this criminal charge down to the non-criminal infraction of C.G.S.§53a-110a simple trespass. A plea to simple trespass just involves the payment of a fine and is akin to a speeding ticket and is not a criminal offense.
For serious cases that can’t be otherwise resolved, first-time offenders who have no prior criminal record may want to discuss the possibility of applying for the accelerated rehabilitation program. The AR program is a diversionary program which would result in a dismissal of the charges against you. Using an diversionary program is not an admission of guilt. You should discuss the available options with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney.Penalties
The penalty for a violation of C.G.S. § 53a-108 – Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree is a Class B misdemeanor for which you can face up to a six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Criminal Defense for Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree If you have been arrested for criminal trespass in the second degree in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-108, you should promptly contact an experienced Connecticut criminal attorney. Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman has over 30 years of experience defending trespassing allegations. Attorney Friedman is determined to achieve the best possible result for his clients.
For more information about defending trespassing allegations in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-108, contact Stamford criminal lawyer Allan F. Friedman at The Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to arrange a free, no-obligation, initial consultation. Our offices are located at 1100 Summer St #306, Stamford, CT 06905. Mr. Friedman can be reached 24/7 at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.