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New Jersey Criminal Trespass Laws

Entering a forbidden space or staying at a place long after permission has expired constitute ways to trespass on someone's property. In addition to being civilly liable, you also could face criminal trespass charges.

Trespassing is a crime similar to burglary because both involve the unlawful entry onto the property of another. However, the intruder's state of mind differs in these offenses. If the actor enters property with criminal intent, then it's considered a burglary; if the actor didn't enter or remain on the property for criminal purposes, then the likely charge is that of criminal trespass.

Forms of Criminal Trespass

The New Jersey statute identifies three distinct forms of criminal trespass:

  1. Unlicensed entry of structures
  2. Unlawful peering into windows
  3. Defiant trespassing

New Jersey Criminal Trespass Laws at a Glance

While an attorney can provide a more nuanced understanding of statutes and is trained in how to apply the law to your particular situation, it can be very helpful to have a more simplified view as well, one that's in plain English and doesn't require a law degree to decipher. The chart below provides you with such a summary for New Jersey's criminal trespass laws, with links to important code sections.


  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:18-3 (Trespass)

Unlawful Entry of Structures

An individual (without privilege or a license) enters or remains in a structure. The offense is categorized as a disorderly persons offense unless certain conditions apply.

The offense is a fourth degree crime if committed in the following areas:

  • Dwelling
  • Research facility
  • Power generation facility
  • Waste treatment facility
  • Public sewage facility
  • Water treatment facility or public water facility
  • Nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds
  • Utility company property
  • Airport sterile area or operational area

Peering into windows or other openings

Peering into windows or other openings of dwellings: The offense is classified as a fourth degree crime.

Defiant Trespassing

Defiant trespasser: The offense is classified as a petty disorderly persons offense.

  • The trespasser enters or remains in a place despite being notified from the owner not to trespass.
  • A fence or oral or written instructions can constitute notice.

Possible Defenses

  • The structure at the time was open to the public and defendant complied with all lawful conditions concerning access to/remaining on the premises.
  • Owner gave permission for access or defendant reasonably believed that owner would've agreed to a license to enter or remain on premises.
  • Affirmative defense: Dwelling or structure was abandoned.
  • Necessity

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Criminal Trespass Laws: Related Resources

Connect with an Attorney For Your New Jersey Criminal Trespass Case

Violating New Jersey's criminal trespass laws should be taken seriously. The charges stemming from noncompliance carry serious consequences including possible jail time. An attorney understands how to raise affirmative defenses and can be an important advocate. Take control of your case by connecting with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney right away.

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