What Is Second-Degree Trespassing?

By Paul Bragulla
Three basic types of trespassing charges can be filed depending on the circumstances of the incident.
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Of the three types of trespass, only two are criminal offenses. The differences between them are mainly in the intent and knowledge of the person committing the offense. While different states have different wordings of their trespassing laws, the basic meaning and definitions are universal.

Definition

Entering private property with criminal intent is a first-degree trespass.
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Simple trespass, the least severe and only non-criminal type of trespassing, is defined by the trespasser lacking knowledge of the fact that he entered private property unlawfully as well as lacking intent to perform unlawful acts once on the premises. First-degree trespassing is the most severe and is defined as knowingly entering private premises with the intent to commit a crime. Second-degree trespass is the crime of knowingly entering premises the person was not authorized to be on without the intent to commit a crime.

Severity

Second-degree trespass is a misdemeanor crime.
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Second-degree trespass is considered a misdemeanor crime, the punishment for which is determined based on the nature and circumstances of the offense. This distinguishes it from simple trespass (which is not a crime) and first-degree trespass (which may be a felony).

Examples

Parking in a lot where a sign is clearly posted is a second-degree trespass.
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Some simple examples of second-degree trespass would be entering a fenced-in area with "No Trespassing" or "Keep Out" signs clearly visible, and parking in a private parking lot without permission despite clear signs advertising its private nature.

About the Author

Paul Bragulla began writing professionally in 2010, producing online articles. His experience as a researcher in beamed energy propulsion means that he can write knowledgeably about topics such as optics, laser operation and high-speed photography. Bragulla holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.