I live and was recently cited in Pennsylvania.
My friend and I climbed a pipe on the side of a shopping center to gain access to the roof of the establishment. We proceeded to move around on the roof for no longer than ten minutes before descending willfully and without knowledge of anyone who was made aware of our presence. Upon our descent it became evident that the police had been called some time shortly after we climbed to the roof. They arrived a few minutes after we had descended.
The police did not see us on the roof, but would have the testimony of a person who was on break who saw us climb down and the testimony of the store manager who also made his way to the roof in pursuit of my friend and I (although I do not believe he saw us) as a result of hearing us from the inside of the store.
We were issued a citation for the trespassing. The officer informed us that it is for “Criminal Trespassing” with a subsection of “Defiant Trespassing”. Nowhere on the form is it indicated that this was indeed to be considered as “Defiant Trespassing”.
The citation states, and is practically copied verbatim from § 3503 Criminal trespass ([url=http://law.onecle.com/pennsylvania/crimes-and-offenses/00.035.003.000.html]Criminal trespass - 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503 - Pennsylvania Attorney Resources - Pennsylvania Laws[/url]), and I quote: “Def. Did knowing he is not licensed or privileged to do so, remained in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders, to witi (?) climbed a pipe to gain access to shopping center roof.”
Defiant Trespassing encompasses: (i) actual communication to the actor (which was not performed); (ii) posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders (there were no signs); (iii) fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.
I realize that I may simply be arguing semantics in saying that there are no fences around the building or any other “enclosures” (unless the building itself is considered an enclosure), but to what extent does the description of this law depend on interpretation and circumstantial assignation?
Moreover, the fines are totaling around 300 dollars which I find to be inordinately exorbitant. It seems as though the judge reviewed the case and assigned an arbitrary value based on the reported nature of the offense. We have not been to court for this, and initially considered pleading guilty and simply paying the fine. With the advent of the fine’s factual value it seems worth contesting. I do not wish to argue the fact that I was on the roof, I simply do not agree with the description of the charge, the quantity of the fine, and the nature of the inherent assumptions of the magistrate.
My questions are manifold, and I will restate them for clarity.
1) Am I at fault for the crimes of which I have been accused (semantically or ethically)?
2) Is this fine unreasonable?
3) Do I have a legitimate case, at least to reduce the sentence?
4) How will this charge appear on my “record”?
Thank you for your time and consideration.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?