Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"I STAYED TOO LONG!:" CRIMINAL TRESPASS TO PROPERTY IN ILLINOIS

You went to a meeting or a party. Things got a little out of hand, and you were asked to leave. Since you weren’t the one making trouble, you refused to go. Next thing you know, you were arrested for criminal trespass to property.

Criminal trespass to property is a Class B misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. You commit criminal trespass if a) you illegally enter a building, such as by sneaking into an empty house, b) you go onto someone’s land after the owner warned you to stay away, such as with a no trespassing sign, or c) you stay on someone’s property after you were asked to leave.

If your trespass takes place inside a car, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Farmers also have additional protection. Trespassing on fields with crops or potential crops, livestock areas, orchards or barns is also a Class A misdemeanor.

A recent well-publicized Skokie case (People v Gregory Koger) involved the Ethical Humanist Society Center. The defendant was asked to stop videotaping inside the Center. He continued taping and was asked to leave. Witnesses testified that he struggled with officers, and after warnings, was pepper sprayed. After hearing both state and defense witnesses, a jury found Defendant guilty on all counts. Neither party disputed that the Center was private property.

The Appeals Court dismissed defendant’s contention that he was not guilty because he intended to leave. A charge of Criminal Trespass only requires evidence that you remained on the premises after you were asked to go. Defendant also argued that another person was recording, and no signs warned against recording. The appellate court held that regardless, Defendant had been asked to go.

If you are charged with criminal trespass, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your case for a defense. Were you in a public building that you reasonably believed was open? Were you attempting to clean up an abandoned property? Was there an emergency?

Do not discuss your case with police or a third party. What might sound like a reasonable explanation to you give the state evidence to convict you.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)