Criminal trespass refers to the unlawful existence or entry of a person into a private property without permission. This crime isn’t as simple as being where you shouldn’t be. When you are found on someone else’s property without permission, you can get yourself in trouble and may even get into a civil lawsuit, so it is not as simple as many people think. Trespass as a criminal offense requires the legal assistance of a defense lawyer.
The owner of a property may sue someone who enters their property without permission. Criminal trespass usually applies for private properties, but it can also be a case for stores and businesses or a state park where people are not permitted to lurk around. Most of the time, people are usually not aware that they may have committed a criminal trespass by stepping into a place without obtaining proper permission.
Simply existing in a place without legal right or permission to be there can cause you to be arrested and charged. A criminal trespass gives the owner the right to bring a civil lawsuit to the trespasser or offender to be punished. Talking of the owner’s consent, if there is a fence around the property or sign is put up, then anyone found on such property without the owner’s consent or permission is an intruder.
Criminal Trespass Specific
Before the presence or entry of an individual can be termed as criminal trespass, the case must have fulfilled specific actions that judge the act as criminal trespass. The major criminal trespass specifics are:
Intent: for a criminal trespass charge to be validated, the offender must have gone into the property without permission with the prior knowledge that they do not have the right to be there. If a person goes into a property without permission knowing fully well that they need permission to do so, such a person can be arrested and charged for trespassing on another person’s property. Accidentally wandering into someone else’s land while on an excursion or while hiking can’t be taken as a crime because the person does not have the idea that he or she needs permission to go on that land.
Warning or notice: if the case of criminal trespass is ever going to be taken up, it has to be clear that the owner of the property has warned that no one is allowed on their property. You can’t be convicted for trespassing if you haven’t been forewarned. Talking of warning, the owner of a property may directly warn you off or put up a notice warning that the property is off-limits. A property owner can also put up a sign saying “No Trespassing” to serve as a warning for anyone wandering about. Without a warning or notice, the trespasser wouldn’t even be aware that they are trespassing.
Trespassing act: some acts are generally considered as trespassing. Going on another person’s land to cut down trees, hunt, harvest crops, or tamper with machines in there can be charged as criminal trespass. Entering someone else’s vehicle without the owner’s permission is punishable as criminal trespass.
Trespass in a public place: you can be guilty of criminal trespass in an open place like a park or store if you remain there after being ordered to leave.
Penalties for Criminal Trespass
Criminal trespass is charged as a misdemeanor but can also be charged as a felony in some cases. If there is significant damage to the property or if another crime is committed along with criminal trespassing, the offender may be charged for a felony.
Also, if the offender trespasses into another person’s home, they may face a harsher penalty and a higher charge. Criminal trespass in a home is tagged burglary and may attract a jail term of up to one year. Trespass on other property may result in just 2 to 3 months in jail.
An individual convicted of criminal trespass may be subjected to a series of punishment. Criminal trespass is a minor crime and it is not associated with stiff penalties. The circumstance surrounding the case determines the length of the jail sentence and the heftiness of the other penalties.
Degree of offense
First-degree criminal trespass is usually more serious than the second degree. It is thus expected that the first-degree trespass attracts a higher penalty than second-degree trespass. The first-degree trespass involves entry into a private building, home or a property that is clearly marked private. Second-degree trespass is less serious and it involves entering a property after being told to leave or a property that is not clearly marked as private.
Criminal trespass convictions resulting in jail term are not common. If it ever happens, it is usually between several days to several months. In most serious cases, an offender may be convicted in jail for one year.
A sentence of time served can also be imposed on an offender. It is common for an offender to be arrested and put in jail after trespassing, the court can decide to count from the time such person as spent in jail as punishment with additional penalties.
Criminal trespass crime is mostly punished by payment of fines. An offender may be required to pay a fine only or pay a fine along with other penalties such as a jail sentence. Trespassing fines could be from a few dollars to as much as $5,000 or even more, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.
The probation penalty for criminal trespass may be supervised or unsupervised. Being on probation means you have to comply with probation conditions such as paying court costs and all fines and not breaking any law. Probation may last up to 12 months or more. Violation of probation conditions may incur additional penalties or lengthening of the probation period.
Do You Need a Criminal Attorney?
Yes, you do need to hire a criminal attorney. To go through a criminal trespass case, you need to talk to a criminal trespass lawyer in New Orleans. Barkemeyer Law Firm is a criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is always ready to give you maximum representation.
201 St. Charles Avenue, Suite 2500
New Orleans, LA 70170