In Texas, you commit the offense of criminal trespass when you enter or remain on the property of another without the permission of the owner or the owner’s representative. This offense can involve jail time as well as significant fines. Unfortunately, it is a law that is quite subject to abuse by unscrupulous property owners. Keep reading to learn more about this serious criminal charge.
Although many people are charged with criminal trespass for entering private property without permission, typically, criminal trespass charges arise because someone is ordered to leave a public establishment or place of employment and refuses to comply with the order. You might be fired by your supervisor, for example, and in the heat of the moment temporarily refuse to comply with your supervisor’s order to leave the workplace.
You generally cannot be charged with criminal trespass for entering someone’s property with implied permission or public authority (such as a mail carrier, firefighter or police officer.)
Criminal trespass is a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law, and it carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail along with a $2,000 fine. It becomes a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, if the trespass occurs in certain sensitive areas – at a “critical infrastructure facility” such as a power station, for example, or at a family violence shelter. This is because trespassing in certain facilities is considered more serious than trespassing elsewhere.
A criminal trespassing charge can be downgraded to a Class C Misdemeanor if circumstances indicate that the trespassing was not particularly dangerous – if it occurred on agricultural property within 100 feet of the boundary, for example. A Class C Misdemeanor is punishable by no jail time and a maximum fine of $500.
Texas law includes a separate criminal trespass offense for holders of concealed handgun licenses. To commit the offense, you must carry a handgun onto property owned by another despite being notified in some way that guns (or concealed guns) are prohibited in the property, and either enter or fail to immediately leave the property.
If the property is owned or leased by the government, you are allowed to carry a licensed handgun as long as carrying a gun on that property is not excluded by state statute. If you carry a gun onto someone’s property without a proper gun license, you could be charged with an offense more serious than criminal trespassing.
In Texas, criminal trespass is a serious matter, with penalties that can disrupt your life and stigmatize you for years. Nevertheless, you don’t have to sit by passively while the State of Texas determines your fate. I will fearlessly defend your interests before the prosecutor, the judge, and the Texas legal system, and I will aggressively confront your accusers. If you have been charged with criminal trespass, don’t wait – call Corley Legal, PLLC in San Antonio or Austin and surrounding counties at (210) 444-2889 / (512) 444-2889 any time 24/7 to schedule a consultation.