It’s not unusual to enter someone’s property without an invitation.
Perhaps you’re stopping by to drop off something, or perhaps you
want to speak with the owner of the property. Or, perhaps you’re
selling something and would like to see if the owners would be interested
in what you have to sell.
When someone has a decent amount of land, you may enter their property
without realizing it. Maybe you were taking a hike, or perhaps you were
exploring a new trail with your dog.
As you’re quietly talking a walk, all of a sudden you’re confronted
by an angry property owner who is yelling at you saying, “You’re
on private property” or “Get off my property, you’re
trespassing!” If he’s passionate enough, he may even have
a shotgun, which is not unheard of in rural areas.
Is it against the law to walk on someone else’s property without
an invitation, and are you actually committing a crime? Under Texas Penal
Code §30.05, Criminal Trespass, you could be breaking the law but
it depends on the circumstances of the case.
Criminal Trespass Under the Texas Penal Code
Under Sec. 30.05, criminal trespass is more than stepping foot on another
person’s property. One way that you can commit criminal trespass
is to enter someone’s property even though there’s a sign
posted prominently that says, “No trespassing.”
Another way to commit the offense is to “remain” on someone’s
property after they have asked or ordered you to leave. Still, there are
more ways that you can be directed to leave, it doesn’t have to
be a verbal direction; it can be written as well.
Here are some of the ways that a property owner can give notice that someone
must stay off or depart from their property:
- An oral communication from the property owner or someone acting on the
- A fence that was designed to keep intruders out or livestock in
- A sign posted on the property indicating that entrance is forbidden
- A sign posted at the entrance of a building forbidding entrance
Criminal trespass under Sec. 30.05 of the Texas Penal Code is usually charged
as a Class B misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine up to $2,000, and
up to 6 months in jail. If the person trespassed on agricultural land
and they are caught within 100 feet of the land, they are guilty of a
Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500.
However, under certain circumstances (e.g. when the offender has a deadly
weapon), criminal trespass can be prosecuted as a
Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.
Need a Plano
criminal defense lawyer to defend you against criminal trespass charges?
Contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC today!