Two young men have been charged with felony burglary and several misdemeanor charges after allegedly breaking into The Saloon bar on Hiester Street early Sunday. The misdemeanor charges included theft, possession of controlled substances and "defiant trespassing," which involves continuing to trespass after being given notice to leave.
According to the Centre Daily Times, the two men, both 19, allegedly entered The Deli & Z-Bar at approximately 8:10 a.m. Sunday. The Deli & Z-Bar is an establishment located above The Saloon and through which The Saloon is accessible. An employee noticed the pair, said the establishment wasn't open and told them to leave.
It seems they left but re-entered The Deli a short time later. Surveillance video appears to show the two men trying to avoid notice, although one was allegedly seen removing an iPad and charger from the hostess station.
They then moved on to The Saloon, according to police. There, they reportedly spent more than an hour drinking and causing an unknown amount of damage to the bar.
When an employee confronted the pair, police say they claimed to be friends of the owner but ran once outside. Police say the pair was later found with beer, marijuana, paraphernalia and Xanax pills between them. One appeared visibly intoxicated to police.
They were arraigned on Sunday, assigned a straight monetary bail of $25,000 each and sent to the Centre County Correctional Facility.
Did a night of drinking lead to a serious error in judgment?
No further information was reported, but you can easily imagine what might have happened. Young people sometimes make poor choices without fully thinking through the consequences -- and such mistakes are typically amplified by alcohol use. It's possible that a night of drinking got out of hand and the young men carried things a deal too far.
Despite the somewhat amusing name of the "defiant trespass" charge, the offenses here are quite serious. Burglary is a first degree felony, which carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The misdemeanor theft charges could easily be upgraded once the amount of damage is finalized.
They may get the charges reduced through a plea bargain. Even reduced, however, the charges may be extremely detrimental to their futures. Any theft or property conviction could lead to being labeled "untrustworthy," which can severely impact job prospects for years to come..
It may be easy to understand how young men could get caught up in this, but 19-year-olds are not eligible for treatment as juveniles. Anyone facing criminal consequences after such an error in judgment should take the situation extremely seriously and contact a criminal defense lawyer right away.