What is trespassing?
In the legal sense, trespassing means you are physically on another person's property without being invited there. This can occur in many different types of situations. You could be taking a shortcut across a field ignoring signs on a fence saying "No trespassing." If so, you'd be breaking the law.
A property owner has the right to have anyone caught on their property who isn't invited to be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. This does not apply to people who have the legal right to be on the property such as mailmen, meter readers or police serving warrants. On the other hand, a salesman would be trespassing.
Trespassing can also occur when an invitation is rescinded. For instance, you can show up to a party and decide you want to stay past the time when the party has ended. If the property owner asks you to leave and you refuse you have entered into the trespassing zone. If you are hanging out in a parking lot of a club or bar and refuse to leave you are trespassing.
Even in an abandoned building you can be trespassing if you haven't been given permission to enter the building. Trespassing as a crime also comes into play when restraining orders are in place. If you violate a restraining order you are also trespassing which can be added to the criminal complaint.
A misdemeanor trespassing is essentially a criminal offense but not at the same level of a felony. It also depends on what you're doing on the property. If you're just hanging out with no intention of committing a crime, it is still considered a misdemeanor trespassing offence. If you enter onto a property with the intent of committing a crime and carry out the crime you might be charged for misdemeanor trespassing and felony burglary.
When it is charged as a misdemeanor
Typically there is a monetary cut off for a misdemeanor in terms of damage. Suppose you go into an abandoned building and tag it with spray paint? You're trespassing and committing vandalism but if the damage done is less then $500 it will be considered a misdemeanor charge in most states.
Depending on the circumstances, a police officer has the discretion at the site to determine if your trespassing violation warrants an arrest. This is absent of a property owner. If the property owner wants to press charges you will be arrested. If this is your first misdemeanor trespassing offence you could be given probation, community service, or a fine. There could also be a combination of all three.
Often when minors are arrested for misdemeanor trespassing they are sentenced to community service hours. However, if misdemeanor trespassing has become a "habit" for you, then you could face jail time. This will also be determined with your intent. Did you trespass with the intent to commit a crime or where you just "looking around?" Either way you are committing a misdemeanor trespassing and it is a serious matter before the court. See also: