Criminal trespass is usually a misdemeanor offense in Texas that is usually punishable by fines and may involve possible jail time. Some alleged offenders are charged with this crime even though they thought they were legally entitled to be on the property.
The kind of property that an alleged offender entered often dictates the classification of the offense. Certain areas have specific definitions under state law, and alleged offenders are allowed to exercise certain affirmative defenses.
If you or your loved one was arrested for criminal trespass in the greater Denton area, make sure that you have legal counsel before going to court. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can provide an aggressive legal defense.
Our firm will help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible consequences. Our attorneys will discuss your rights as soon as you call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(a) establishes that a person commits criminal trespass if they enter or remain on or in the property of another party without effective consent and the alleged offender had notice that entry was forbidden or received notice to depart but failed to do so. Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05(b), there are definitions provided for a dozen terms relating to criminal trespass:
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d)(3) establishes that criminal trespass is a Class A misdemeanor if the alleged offense is committed in a habitation or a shelter center, on a Superfund site, or on or in a critical infrastructure facility, the alleged offense is committed on or in property of an institution of higher education and the alleged offender has previously been convicted of criminal trespass relating to entering or remaining on or in property of an institution of higher education or an offense under Education Code § 51.204(b)(1) relating to trespassing on the grounds of an institution of higher education, or the alleged offender carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.
Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d)(2), criminal trespass is a Class C misdemeanor when the alleged offender trespasses on agricultural land and within 100 feet of the boundary of the land, or on residential land and within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area. All other criminal trespass offenses are Class B misdemeanors.
It is also important to note that Texas Penal Code § 30.06 establishes the crime of trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun. It is a Class C misdemeanor if a license holder carries a concealed handgun on property of another without effective consent and received notice that entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun was forbidden.
The sentence a person receives if convicted of criminal trespass will depend on how their alleged crime was graded. The statutory maximums are as follows:
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d-2) provides that when the state seeks an increase in punishment provided by Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d)(3)(B) relating to alleged offenses committed on or in property of an institution of higher education by previous offenders, the alleged offender can raise the issue as to whether, at the time of the instant offense or the previous offense, they were engaging in speech or expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 8, Article I of the Texas Constitution. Similarly, Texas Penal Code § 30.05(h) also establishes that when the state seeks the increase in punishment provided by Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d)(3)(A)(iii), the alleged offender can raise the issue as to whether the alleged offender entered or remained on or in a critical infrastructure facility as part of a peaceful or lawful assembly, including an attempt to exercise rights guaranteed by state or federal labor laws. When an alleged offender proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence, the increase in punishment will not apply.
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(e) establishes that is a defense to prosecution for criminal trespass that the alleged offender at the time of the offense was a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty under exigent circumstances, a person who was an employee or agent of an electric utility, a telecommunications provider, a video service provider or cable service provider, a gas utility, a pipeline used for the transportation or sale of oil, gas, or related products, or an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility, performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency, or a person who was employed by or acting as agent for an entity that had, or that the person reasonably believed had, effective consent or authorization provided by law to enter the property, and performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency.
Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05(f), it is also a defense to prosecution for criminal trespass that the basis on which entry on the property or land or in the building was forbidden is that entry with a handgun was forbidden and the person was carrying a license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411 of the Government Code to carry a handgun and a handgun in a concealed manner or in a shoulder or belt holster.
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(g) states that it is a defense to prosecution for criminal trespass that the alleged offender entered a railroad switching yard or any part of a railroad switching yard and was at that time an employee or a representative of employees exercising a right under the Railway Labor Act.
Trespassing | Texas Parks and Wildlife | Texas.gov — The mission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is "To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." Find answers to frequently asked questions about trespassing on this section of the website. You can also find additional information about private land management.
Texas Landowner Duty to Trespasser on Property - Texas A&M AgriLife — The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is an education agency with a statewide network of professional educators, trained volunteers, and county offices. As this article notes, the only duty that a landowner owes to a trespasser is not to intentionally injure that person or to act with “gross negligence.” The article discusses the concept of gross negligence.
Were you or your loved one arrested for criminal trespass in Denton or a surrounding area of Texas? Do not think that pleading guilty will not have later consequences.