The state of Washington recognizes two degrees of criminal trespassing, both of which can mean jail time and fines if convicted. There are several viable defenses to trespassing charges, however. If you’ve been accused of or charged with trespassing, consulting a lawyer should be top priority. You are welcome to call Daryl Graves Law at (253) 383-7777 for a free consultation to discuss your case and get the legal representation you need to fight the charges.
Two Types of Trespassing Charges in Washington
The penalties you face if convicted depend upon which degree of criminal trespassing with which you’ve been charged.
- First degree – This is the most severe of the two charges. RCW 9A.52.070(1) explains that someone commits criminal trespass in the first degree when “he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building.” This infraction is considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Second degree – RCW 9A.52.080(1) explains that someone commits criminal trespass in the second degree when “he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting criminal trespass in the first degree.” This crime is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The primary difference between first- and second-degree trespassing is the location where you were caught. If it was in a building, it’s considered first degree; if it was just on the premises (outdoors), it’s considered second degree.
Defenses for Criminal Trespassing Charges
The statutes also provide four defenses for trespassing charges.
- The building was abandoned.
- The premises were open to the public, and you complied with all the rules and conditions of lawfully being on the premises.
- You thought that the owner would have given you permission to be on the premises.
- You were on the premises to serve legal papers.
You and your attorney can review the circumstances of your situation and decide which defense would serve you best. Then your lawyer can compile evidence and a solid argument to discuss your case with the prosecutor.
Trespassing charges may be “compromised.”
Washington provides a rule known as the misdemeanor compromise statute. The law, detailed in RCW 10.22.010, provides that with some misdemeanors, if the victim of the offense tells the court that his or her harm has been satisfied, the courts may decide to drop your charges. As long as you are not a law enforcement officer, you were not rioting, you did not attempt to commit a felony, and the trespassing didn’t involve domestic violence, criminal trespassing charges may be compromised (dropped).
The law reads: “If the party injured appear in the court in which the cause is pending at any time before the final judgment therein, and acknowledge, in writing, that he or she has received satisfaction for the injury, the court may, in its discretion, on payment of the costs incurred, order all proceedings to be discontinued and the defendant to be discharged.”
This law can be extremely advantageous for those charged with trespassing. You can call our office for more details on how trespassing interacts with other aspects of criminal law.
Consulting Daryl Graves Law Trespassing Attorneys
The Washington defense attorneys at Daryl Graves Law are well versed in trespassing cases and know how best to approach each one. We have a successful track record and would be happy to discuss your case. Feel free to check out our testimonials. You also might want to review our helpful video, How to prepare for meeting with you attorney?
Call us for a free consultation: 253-383-7777.