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In Washington State, individuals facing criminal trespass charges under RCW 9A.52.070 and 9A.52.080 have specific legal defenses available as outlined in RCW 9A.52.090. This statute provides essential guidance on when and how an accused person can establish a valid defense, illuminating the path to potentially clearing their name. Understanding these defenses is vital for anyone who finds themselves accused of trespassing, possibly due to misunderstanding or specific circumstances that justify their presence on another’s property.

Defenses Under RCW 9A.52.090: A Closer Look

1. The Abandoned Building Defense

One of the defenses for first-degree criminal trespass involves the status of the property. If a defendant can demonstrate that the building was abandoned at the time they entered, this may absolve them of the trespassing charge. This defense hinges on the idea that trespass laws aim to protect active property interests, which diminish in cases of abandonment.

2. Access to Public Premises

Both first and second-degree trespass charges can be defended if the accused was on premises open to the public, adhering to all access conditions. This defense caters to situations where the property was welcoming visitors, and the accused followed every rule set for entry and presence on the property.

3. Belief in Permission to Enter

Another defense arises if the accused reasonably believed they had permission from the property owner or another authorized individual to be on the premises. This subjective belief, if deemed reasonable, can serve as a robust defense, emphasizing the accused’s understanding of their right to enter or stay.

4. Serving Legal Process

Specifically, RCW 9A.52.090 offers a defense for those attempting to serve legal documents, provided the entry onto the property was reasonable, necessary, and did not involve intruding into private residences or non-public buildings. This recognizes the lawful need to enter properties for specific legal actions.

Key Takeaways

RCW 9A.52.090 delineates clear defenses for those accused of criminal trespass in Washington State, highlighting the law’s flexibility and understanding of various legitimate reasons for entering or remaining on a property. For individuals navigating these charges, familiarizing themselves with these defenses and seeking competent legal advice is crucial. These provisions ensure that the legal system accommodates misunderstandings and justified actions, offering a fair chance for defense against trespassing allegations.

You can read the text of RCW 9A.52.090 here:

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We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us