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Houston Criminal Trespassing Attorney

Understanding Criminal Trespassing Laws in Texas

According to Texas Penal Code 30.05, criminal trespassing is the act of knowingly entering private property without the consent of the owner. Typically these properties have a sign that forbids entry or the individual is asked to leave the property by one of its residents.

To prove the defendant committed criminal trespass, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was aware the property was forbidden. Criminal trespass also may apply if someone’s rights to remain on property are revoked. An individual refusing to leave private property after the conclusion of a party may result in criminal trespass. If you have been accused of trespassing contact us today!

Call (713) 448-0303 to discuss your criminal trespass case with Samuel M. Gardner, a seasoned criminal lawyer in Houston, TX.

Trespass Notices

Issuing a notice to vacate the premises can be given in many ways. The owner or representative of the owner may leave a written note or speak to the defendant directly. Breaching walls, a fence, or some other structure that clearly defines property limits constitutes illegal trespass. If the structure is compromised (the individual was in the woods and came across a rotting fence) and doesn’t clearly mark boundaries, the defense can prove the trespass was unwitting.

Notice can also be given by hanging signs up on the edges of the property. “No Hunting or Trespassing” signs put on trees by property owners count as reasonable notice. In Texas, placing visible marks of purple paint counts as notice. Farmers are automatically protected. Any crops, cultivated fields, or other producible good that can be compromised by trespassing parties is considered notice.

Trespass Penalties

Simply by violating notice and trespassing on private property can earn the defendant jail time. The crime is considered a Class B misdemeanor and is penalized with a fine of up to $2,000 or 180 days of jail time. Trespassing on farmland or being within 100 feet of a freshwater area is considered a Class C misdemeanor for which the penalties double to a maximum $4,000 fine and/or a year in jail.

Penalties are increased given additional elements in the case. If the offending party was carrying a deadly weapon, criminal trespass is automatically considered a Class C misdemeanor.

The crime is considered burglary if the defendant entered the property with the intent to commit an additional crime. Theft, assault, or any additional felonies, whether successful or simply apparent in intent, all elevate criminal trespass to burglary.

Defense Against Criminal Trespass Charges

Public workers like firefighters or emergency responders, utility workers, and other members of the service industry that work with homeowners have trespassing protections. Depending on the time of day and type of trespass, they may be able to prove they were simply working.

Sometimes charges can be reduced if the trespass occurred in a nonthreatening location of the property. A judge is more likely to administer a lighter punishment to someone who approached an unattached garage as opposed to an attached garage, for example.

In cases where boundaries are not clearly defined, criminal trespass can be reduced to an infraction. Infractions will not appear on your permanent record but are still subject to possible punishment from the court.

To reduce your sentence or drop the charges, contact Samuel Gardner to speak with a Houston criminal trespass attorney today.


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