A 20-year-old man was arrested and charged in a Centre County Court with Pennsylvania felony offenses of Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief after allegedly going into an unoccupied State College apartment and vandalizing the place to the extent of causing over $6,000.00 in damage. Both charges were graded as felonies of the third degree and thereby subject the man to a sentence of up to 7 years in jail and a $15,000.00 fine for each charge. Due to the severity of the charges, the man's bail was set at $15,000.00, and, because the man did not have that cash amount immediately available to post bail, he was taken to the Centre County prison while he awaits his preliminary hearing.
Severity of Pennsylvania Criminal Charges
A Criminal Trespass charge, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S.A § 3503, basically alleges that a person was in a place where he or she was not permitted or supposed to be. The severity or grading of the charge is based upon the type of location where the trespass occurred and can range from a relatively minor summary to a very serious felony charge. In this case, the charge was graded as a felony of the third degree because it involved being unlawfully within a building as opposed to being outside. On an interesting note, had the police claimed that the man broke into the apartment or snuck in through a window, he should have been charged with the more severe felony of the second degree. The online news article did not mention how the man gained entry into the apartment, but I wonder if someone had left the door unlocked.
The severity of Pennsylvania Criminal Mischief charges is based upon the value of the damage caused or the loss in value to the item. In this case, since the damage was estimated at over $5,000.00, the offense is graded as a felony of the third degree. If convicted of criminal mischief, the Centre County judge would impose a sentence of probation or jail time, and the man would be required to pay restitution, meaning the amount of the damages, to the owner. If the man failed to pay the restitution amount during his sentence, the judge would hold the man in contempt and send him to jail.