If you are accused of criminal trespass in Texas, it is crucial you understand the charges you are facing as well as the possible penalties for criminal trespass under Texas law. Criminal trespass is not a charge that should be taken lightly. In addition to jail time and fines, a conviction could mean issues gaining future employment, education, and residential opportunities.
The following explains criminal trespass, its punishments, and potential defenses. Read on for more information regarding this point of Texas law. Should you have specific questions, contact an experienced San Antonio criminal defense lawyer.
What Is Criminal Trespass in Texas?
Criminal trespass in Texas is entering the private property of another without their consent, refusing to leave a premises or property after being ordered to leave, or coming back to a premises or property after receiving a trespass warning.
The legal definition of criminal trespass is found under Texas Penal Code 30.05, which states that a person commits criminal trespass if:
- He or she enters or remains in or on the property of another;
- Without the effective consent of the owner; and the accused
- Had notice that entry was forbidden; or
- Was given notice to depart and failed to do so.
What is the Punishment for Criminal Trespass?
Criminal trespass is generally a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. It is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. However, criminal trespass of a habitation, a shelter, or a critical infrastructure facility is a Class A misdemeanor and carries up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to $4,000
Proving Criminal Trespass
In order to convict an alleged offender of criminal trespass, the prosecutor must prove the accused had “notice” that entry in or on the premises was forbidden. Under Texas law, “notice” can mean:
- An oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner
- Fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock
- A sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden
Texas law allows landowners to provide notice that entry is forbidden by painting trees, posts, or fences purple, as long as the purple marks are:
- Vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width
- Placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground or more than five feet from the ground
- Placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than 100 feet apart on forest land or 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land
Common Defenses to Criminal Trespass
Common defenses to criminal trespass include being a firefighter or emergency medical services provider acting in an official capacity under exigent circumstances or an employee or agent of an electric, utility, telecommunications provider, video service provider, pipeline, or electric cooperative acting within the scope of their employment.
Contact a Texas Criminal Attorney for Help Today
If you were charged with criminal trespass in the San Antonio area, speak with one of the qualified and competent attorneys at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC. Our legal team has the knowledge and experience necessary to get the best possible results for your case.
Call Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, today to discuss your legal rights and options.