Your Future Is On The Line: Consult A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing criminal trespass charges, time is of the essence. The sooner you hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer, the better your chances are of reducing charges or even achieving a not-guilty verdict. Cofer & Connelly, PLLC is well-versed in criminal law in the state of TX and can advocate for your best interests to help you fend off a criminal trespass conviction. Call us now at (512) 991-0576 or click here to get started.
If you're a resident of Texas or find yourself on Texan soil, it's crucial to be aware of the state's laws and regulations to ensure you don't find yourself facing criminal charges. One area of law that everyone should understand is criminal trespass, as outlined in Section 30.05 of the Penal Code of Texas. Whether you're a property owner, tenant, or visitor, knowing the ins and outs of this law can help you avoid legal troubles. Below, we'll break down the key aspects of Texas criminal trespass laws to provide you with a clear understanding of what's involved.
What Is Criminal Trespass In Texas?
Criminal trespass, as detailed in Section 30.05 of the Penal Code of Texas, involves the unauthorized entry or remaining on someone else's property without their effective consent. This property could include residential or agricultural land, buildings, recreational vehicle parks, aircraft, and other vehicles. The law specifies two scenarios under which criminal trespass occurs:
Entry Against Notice
If you enter or remain on someone else's property despite having received clear notice that your entry is forbidden.
Ignoring Departure Notice
If you fail to leave the property after receiving notice to depart.
Understanding The Terminology: Notice And Entry
The law provides specific definitions for various terms used in the context of criminal trespass. For instance, “notice” can take several forms:
Oral Or Written Communication
The owner or someone with apparent authority can communicate that entry is forbidden either orally or in writing.
Fences or enclosures designed to exclude intruders or contain livestock can serve as notice.
Signs indicating that entry is forbidden, posted on the property or at building entrances, can serve as notice.
Purple Paint Marks
On certain properties, purple paint marks on trees or posts can signify forbidden entry.
If there's a crop grown for human consumption under cultivation, its presence can indicate that entry is prohibited.
“Entry,” as per this law, refers to the intrusion of the entire body onto the property.
Degrees Of Criminal Trespass
The severity of the offense of criminal trespass varies based on different factors, leading to three classes of misdemeanor charges:
Class B Misdemeanor
This is the standard charge for criminal trespass under most circumstances.
Class C Misdemeanor
A lesser charge that applies when the offense occurs unfolds on agricultural land within fewer than 101 feet of the boundary or on residential land within fewer than 101 feet of a protected freshwater area.
Class A Misdemeanor
This is the most serious charge for criminal trespass and applies under specific circumstances:
When the trespass happens in a habitation (a dwelling place), shelter center, or on a Superfund site.
Institution of Higher Education
If the offense unfolds on the property of an institution of higher education, and the person has a previous conviction related to trespassing on such properties.
Carrying a Deadly Weapon
When the person carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.
General Residential Operation
If the offense is committed on the property of a general residential operation operating as a residential treatment center.
Defenses And Exemptions
Several defenses and exemptions exist under this law that can protect individuals from criminal trespass charges:
Firefighters And Emergency Personnel
Firefighters and emergency medical services personnel acting in the lawful discharge of official duties under exigent circumstances are exempt.
Individuals acting on behalf of certain utility providers or those who have lawful consent to enter the property are exempt.
Firearm License Holders
Individuals with a license to carry a handgun are exempt when entering a property where entry with a firearm is forbidden.
Property Lease Holders
Lease holders of certain types of properties, such as apartments, condominiums, or hotel rooms, are exempt from criminal trespass charges related to firearm possession on the premises.
Frequently Asked Questions About Texas Criminal Trespass Laws
What Is Considered Criminal Trespass Under Texas Law?
Criminal trespass occurs when a person enters or remains on someone else's property without effective consent, while disregarding notice that entry is forbidden or fails to depart after receiving departure notice.
What Types Of Properties Are Covered By The Criminal Trespass Law?
The law applies to a wide range of properties, including residential or agricultural land, buildings, recreational vehicle parks, aircraft, and other vehicles.
What Constitutes “Notice” Under The Law?
Notice can be given through oral or written communication, fencing or enclosures designed to exclude intruders, signs indicating entry is forbidden, purple paint marks on trees, or the presence of a crop grown for human consumption.
What Are The Penalties For Criminal Trespass In Texas?
Penalties vary based on the circumstances. It can range from a Class B misdemeanor (standard charge) to a Class A misdemeanor for more serious offenses, such as trespass in a habitation, shelter center, Superfund site, or critical infrastructure facility.
Can Carrying A Weapon During Trespass Increase The Charges?
Yes, if a person carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the trespass offense, it can elevate the charge to a Class A misdemeanor.
Are There Defenses Available Against Criminal Trespass Charges?
Yes, several defenses and exemptions exist. For instance, individuals with a firearm license, authorized personnel, and certain property lease holders are exempt under specific circumstances.
What Should I Do If I'm Facing Criminal Trespass Charges?
If you're facing criminal trespass charges, it's essential to seek legal counsel immediately. Consult an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney who can steer you through the legal process and provide tailored guidance based on your situation.
Can A Person Be Charged With Criminal Trespass If They Were Invited Onto The Property But Overstayed Their Welcome?
If a person enters with consent but stays after being asked to depart, they can be charged with criminal trespass. However, it's essential to consult an attorney to assess the specific circumstances of your case.
Can Property Owners Use Force To Remove Trespassers From Their Property?
Property owners have rights to protect their property, but the use of force must be reasonable and within the boundaries of the law. Excessive or unnecessary force can lead to legal consequences for the property owner.
Can Criminal Trespass Charges Be Expunged From One's Criminal Record?
Expungement eligibility depends on various factors, including the outcome of the case. Consulting with a legal professional can provide you with the most strategic information on whether expungement is possible.
What's The First Step To Take If I'm Unsure Whether I Have The Right To Enter A Property?
If you're uncertain about whether you have the right to enter a property, it's wise to seek legal guidance before taking any action. Consulting reputable criminal defense lawyers can help prevent unintentional violations of the law.
Experienced Criminal Trespassing Lawyers
Criminal trespass laws in Texas are designed to protect property owners' rights and ensure safety. Understanding the definitions, degrees, and exemptions under Texas law can help you navigate various situations without violating the law. If you find yourself facing a criminal trespass charge or you have questions about your rights in a specific scenario, it's crucial to consult with an experienced Texas trespass attorney. With their informed approach, you can ensure you have an extensive understanding of the law and receive appropriate legal guidance tailored to your situation.
Charged with trespassing in TX? Your choice of legal representation can make or break your case. With criminal defense lawyers from Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, you'll benefit from years of experience and experience. We prioritize your needs and fight for your rights. Don't wait, call us today at (512) 991-0576 or fill out a consultation form online.