What Counts as Trespassing?

Law 

Is criminal trespassing really the minor crime that it sounds like? Unfortunately, it is not.

Criminal trespassing does not sound like a major crime to many people, but for those convicted, it comes with real consequences. Individuals convicted of criminal trespassing may even face jail time. Fortunately, for those charged, there are defenses that can help them avoid those penalties and maintain their freedom. If you have been charged, a Travis County criminal defense lawyer can create for you a solid case and help you avoid those harsh penalties.

What is Criminal Trespassing in Texas?

The Texas Penal Code Section 30.05 defines criminal trespass quite clearly. In order for this offense to have occurred, the prosecution must prove three elements of the alleged crime. These include:

  • A person enters and remains on the property that belongs to another person,
  • The person did not have consent of the property owner to be on the property, and
  • The person entering the property was under notice that the entry was forbidden and received notice to leave but failed to do so.

Under the criminal statute, criminal trespass occurs when a person’s entire body enters the property. This means that if a person is passing by private property and places only their foot on that property, that does not constitute criminal trespass.

Many criminal trespassing cases have hinged on what is meant by the term ‘notice.’ The meaning has been defined by the courts as providing oral or written notice by the property owner, or by someone who has been given the authority to act for the owner. Examples of proper notice may include fencing that is clearly designed to contain livestock and exclude intruders, signs posted on the property, and even, under certain conditions, purple marks painted on trees and posts on the property.

Penalties for Criminal Trespassing

In the majority of cases, criminal trespassing is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. However, this will depend on where the trespass occurred. When criminal trespassing is charged as a Class B misdemeanor, those convicted face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

There are certain circumstances that can upgrade a criminal trespassing charge from a Class B misdemeanor. For example, if the person charged with trespassing is found to be carrying a deadly weapon at the time that they are criminally trespassing on another person’s property, the charge may be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor.

Facing Criminal Trespass Charges? Call Our Travis County Criminal Defense Attorneys

Facing any criminal charges, including those involving criminal trespass, may leave you feeling hopeless. Our Austin criminal defense attorneys know that it is not. At Granger and Mueller, PC, we understand that there are defenses available, and we know how to use them to give you your best chance of a positive outcome. When you need the right defense, call us at (512) 474-9999 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys and to start crafting an effective defense that can help you retain your freedom.

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