Criminal trespassing doesn't sound like the most serious crime, but a conviction can result in a variety of impactful penalties and consequences. If you're charged with criminal trespassing, which typically results from entering someone's property or land without authorization, it's important to learn more about your legal rights.
If you receive a formal charge of criminal trespassing, don't automatically assume that it will result in a conviction. There are several defense strategies you can use to avoid punishment, including the following:
- Consent: Simply put, you need to prove that you had permission to enter the property. Consent comes in many forms, including written or verbal permission. Keep in mind that you can't receive consent from a minor, someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or someone who is not legally competent. Also, you can't obtain consent through fraud.
- To reclaim personal property: If someone has property that belongs to you, there are times when you're permitted to trespass to recover it. Whether or not you use this defense strategy depends on the circumstances surrounding the deprivation of your property.
- Public necessity: Protecting public safety is a big deal, so this is a reasonable criminal trespassing defense strategy to consider. However, you must be able to prove that you trespassed in order to protect the public.
- Private necessity: This is similar to public necessity in many ways, as it allows you to trespass if doing so will help protect you or another person from injury or death. An example of this is entering private property because you heard someone yelling for help.
The penalties for a criminal trespassing conviction are not as serious as some other crimes, but can still include things such as a fine and community service.
Also, keep in mind that it's possible for you to be charged with another crime, such as assault and battery or theft, alongside criminal trespassing.
It's important to clear your name of any wrongdoing, so if you're facing criminal trespassing charges don't hesitate to learn more about your legal rights. There is likely to be one or more defense strategies you can use to avoid a conviction and put this chapter of your life in the past.