What is a defiant trespasser?

If you go into or remain in any Pennsylvania building or occupied structure without permission to do so, you could face trespass charges. You likewise could face such charges if you venture without permission into any part of a building or structure that is secured.

As the Pennsylvania General Assembly explains, Section 3503 of the Pennsylvania Code provides for the following five types of trespass:

  1. Criminal trespass
  2. Defiant trespass
  3. Simple trespass
  4. Agricultural trespass
  5. Agricultural biosecurity area trespass

Defiant trespass

In order to receive a conviction for defiant trespass, you must unlawfully enter or remain in a building after receiving notice against trespass. This notice can take any of the following forms:

  • Someone tells you not to come in or remain
  • A sign tells you not to come in or remain
  • A fence or other enclosure or barrier indicates that you should not come in or remain
  • A notice at a school’s entrance warns you not to come in or remain without authorization
  • A school official or law enforcement officer tells you not to come in or remain

Defiant trespass penalties

In most situations, defiant trespass constitutes a third degree misdemeanor, the penalties for which are a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. In the case of a school, however, it constitutes a first degree misdemeanor. Here the penalties are considerably more harsh: imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

This is general educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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