One of the most prosecuted crimes in the state of Texas, as well as the rest of the country, is criminal trespass. There are a lot of factors that go into the prosecution of trespassing offenses. If you have been charged, defending yourself against a conviction is possible with the correct strategies.
Criminal trespass in Texas
The crime of criminal trespass is explicitly outlined in the Texas penal code. Trespassing is defined as the act of a person entering the property of another person without permission on purpose. It is further defined as a misdemeanor. The crime, however, does not apply to everyone who enters a property. It only applies to those that were aware that entry was forbidden.
Penalties for criminal trespass
Criminal trespass is treated as a serious misdemeanor and can result in serious penalties. These include:
• a fine of up to $2,000 for a Class B conviction
• a jail term of up 100 days for a Class B conviction
• a fine of up to $500 for a Class C conviction
Class C trespassing in Texas is defined as trespassing onto farmland. Other kinds of trespassing are treated more seriously and result in Class B convictions.
Defense against criminal trespass
Just because you have been charged with criminal trespass does not mean you are guilty. Those who raise successful defenses in court can avoid a conviction. One of the best of these defenses is demonstrating that the party in question did not know they were trespassing at the time of the offense. Criminal trespass is a crime that requires a specific mental state.
There are also other cases when a defendant may be acquitted or have their criminal charges reduced. For example, the defendant may have known that trespassing was not allowed on the property. However, the property owner may have done a poor job clearly defining the perimeters or their property. In this case, a misdemeanor charge may be avoided.
Overall, while criminal trespass is only a misdemeanor in Texas, it is still a serious crime with serious penalties. However, if you can prove you weren’t aware you were trespassing, you can avoid a conviction and the associated penalties.