It’s Halloween time, when spooky tales about that scary house in
your neighborhood come alive. Stories might include claims of ghosts or
haunted figures floating around the grounds or inside the property. After
the tale is told, someone in your group might dare you to go into the
house and prove that you’re not afraid of whatever may or may not
be lurking on the inside. However, by showing your bravery and walking
onto the property, you might face a different kind of terror: a criminal
charge for trespassing.
What Is Criminal Trespassing?
In Texas, it is illegal for a person to enter onto or into private property
without having obtained consent from the owner.
Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05, types of property include, but are
not limited to:
- Residential land
- Agricultural land
- RV parks
In addition to needing permission to enter onto someone else’s property,
to be charged, you must have received notice that you were not allowed
to be in the area or the owner told you to leave, but you didn’t.
According to the law, “notice” can be a written, spoken, or
structural warning, such as:
- Communication from the owner, or someone who has the authority to speak
on their behalf
- A fence or other enclosure blocking access from the property
- A sign posted on the property or at its entrance
- Purple paint marks on trees or other posts
- Crops grown for human consumption
Penalties for Criminal Trespassing
If you muster up the courage to visit that spooky house from the story,
and you see signage prohibiting entry, it’s best to turn around
and not enter the property. Unfortunately, if you ignore the warnings
you could be charged and convicted of criminal trespassing.
Generally, criminal trespassing is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries
a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, depending
on the type of property you entered, the punishments for this offense
vary. For example, entering onto agricultural land or residential property
within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area without consent is a Class
C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500.
If you trespassed on a shelter center, such as a
family violence center, or a critical infrastructure, which includes a chemical facility,
refinery, electrical power facility, among others, you could be charged
with a Class A misdemeanor and face up to 1 year in prison and up to $4,000 in fines.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Jerry Loftin & Associates
Unfortunately, signs forbidding entry onto a property aren’t always
easy to see, and you could be arrested for trespassing when you didn’t
realize you weren’t allowed in the area. Our attorneys have handled
numerous criminal cases, including those involving
juvenile crimes, and we know how to build defenses to fight charges.
If you need seasoned legal guidance in Fort Worth, call us at (817) 429-2000 or
contact us online.