Criminal Trespass

Aug 04, 2015

In Florida, a person commits criminal trespass when he or she enters another’s property or remains on the property without the owner’s permission. A key requirement of trespass is that the person had notice that he or she was not supposed to be on the property, yet entered or remained on the property despite the warning.

There are two main types of criminal trespass in Florida - trespass in a structure or conveyance and trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance. If you have been accused of trespass, it is important to choose an experienced property crimes lawyer to defend your case.

Trespass in Structure or Conveyance

Under Florida law, a person commits trespass in a structure or conveyance when that person willfully enters or remains in a structure or conveyance without the owner’s authorization.

Entering or remaining includes situations in which the defendant was initially authorized to enter, but then willfully refuse to leave when the owner warned him or her to depart.

For purposes of the trespass statute, a structure is a building or dwelling of any kind or the remnants thereof. It does not matter whether the building is a temporary or a permanent structure. The definition also includes the property on which the building sits.

A conveyance is defined as any motor vehicle, boat, railroad car, trailer, aircraft, etc., or any portions of the conveyance as currently exist. “Entering a conveyance” includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.

Additionally, the person alleging the trespass must have been in lawful possession of the structure or conveyance at the time of the trespass.

Trespass on Other Property

A person commits trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance when he or she willfully enters property other than a structure or conveyance without being invited. Either notice against entering or remaining on the property is given, or the property is the unenclosed land around a dwelling, and the offender enters or remains with the intent to commit an offense.

Again, the property must be lawfully possessed by the person claiming the trespass. Notice against entering or remaining on property may be given by actual communication to the defendant or by posting, cultivation, or fencing on the property.

Intent

In order to be convicted of trespass, the offender does not have to intend to trespass or to commit a crime on the property. Rather, all that is required is that the defendant intend to enter or remain on the property without the owner’s permission.

Permission

Permission or authorization to enter or remain on property may be either expressly or implicitly granted. Implied permission is granted when, under the circumstances, a reasonable person would believe that he or she had the owner’s permission.

If a person has been invited to enter a business, the owner must actually communicate a revocation of the invitation in order to put the person on notice that he or she may be arrested for trespass.

Penalties

Trespass on a structure or conveyance is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida. It is punishable by up to sixty days in jail. If another person is present on the property, the offense becomes a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Trespass on other property is a first degree misdemeanor and may be punished by up to one year in jail.

If the defendant carried a firearm or other dangerous weapon while committing either type of trespass, the crime becomes a third degree felony. It is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

If you have been charged with criminal trespass, it is essential to retain an attorney who understands the many defenses possible in a trespass charge. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein today, for a free initial consultation.