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Texas Penal Code § 30.05 - CRIMINAL TRESPASS
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Criminal Trespass Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
In Texas, the law of criminal trespass makes it a criminal offense for a person to enter or remain on someone else's property without their consent, under certain circumstances. Specifically, the person must either have had notice that their entry was forbidden, or they must have received notice to depart but failed to do so. This includes entering or remaining on residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, a residential treatment center, or an aircraft or other vehicle. The offense is committed whether the person causes any damage or disturbance while on the property.
Notice for Criminal Trespass
According to Texas Penal Code section 30.05(b)(2), a person receives notice to depart when they are informed to leave the property by the owner, the owner's agent, or a person with apparent authority to act for the owner. Notice can be given orally or in writing, and it can be given at the time of the person's entry onto the property or at any time while they are on the property.
For example, if a person enters a store and is told by the store manager to leave the property, this would be considered notice to depart. Similarly, if a person is given a written notice to leave a property by the owner or their agent, this would also be an acceptable notice under the law.
A person can have constructive notice in the following situations:
1. If there is fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
2. If there is a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building indicating that entry is forbidden;
3. If there is the placement of proper identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property; or
4. the visible presence on the property of a crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if harvested at the time of entry.
Criminal Trespass Warnings in Texas
In Texas, law enforcement officers have the authority to issue criminal trespass warnings to individuals who are found to be trespassing on someone else's property. A criminal trespass warning is a written notice that informs the person that they are not allowed to enter or remain on the property. The warning is typically issued by a law enforcement officer at the request of the property owner or their agent.
If a person receives a criminal trespass warning, they are required to leave the property immediately and may not re-enter the property without the owner's consent. If the person fails to comply with the warning and continues to remain on the property, they may be arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
Criminal trespass warnings are typically issued in cases where a person has entered or remained on someone else's property without their consent, but the property owner does not wish to press criminal charges. The warning serves as a way to inform the person that their presence is not welcomed on the property and to prevent future trespassing incidents.
It is important to note that a criminal trespass warning is different from a criminal trespass charge. A warning does not result in a criminal record, but a criminal charge does. However, a person who has received a criminal trespass warning may be more likely to be charged with criminal trespass in the future if they are found to be trespassing on the same or a different property.
Criminal Trespass v. Burglary in Texas
In Texas, criminal trespass and burglary are two distinct criminal offenses. Criminal trespass involves entering or remaining on someone else's property without their consent, while burglary involves entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime.
Here are some key differences between criminal trespass and burglary in Texas:
Intent: The main difference between these two offenses is the intent of the person committing the crime. Criminal trespass involves entering or remaining on someone else's property without their consent, while burglary involves entering a structure with the intent to commit a crime while inside.
Property: Another key difference is the type of property involved. Criminal trespass can involve any type of property, including land, buildings, vehicles, and so on. Burglary, on the other hand, specifically involves the unlawful entry into a structure, such as a house, office, or store.
Penalty: The potential penalties for these two offenses also differ. Criminal trespass is generally a less serious offense, with Class B misdemeanors carrying a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Burglary, on the other hand, can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the value of the property involved. Felony burglary carries a prison sentence of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It is important to note that a person can be charged with both criminal trespass and burglary if they enter someone else's property with the intent to commit a crime while inside. In such cases, the person may be charged with both offenses.
Defenses to Criminal Trespass in Texas
There are several defenses that may be raised in a criminal trespass case in Texas. Some common defenses include:
Mistake: A defendant may also be able to argue that they did not realize they were trespassing on someone else's property. This might be the case, for example, if the property was not clearly marked as private or if the defendant had a good faith belief that they had permission to be on the property.
Alibi: An alibi defense involves the defendant providing evidence that they were not at the location of the alleged offense at the time it occurred. If the defendant can provide evidence such as witness testimony, credit card receipts, or other documentation to show that they were elsewhere when the alleged trespassing occurred, they may be able to successfully raise an alibi defense.
Consent: A defendant may also be able to argue that they had the owner's consent to be on the property. For example, if the defendant was invited onto the property by the owner or their agent, or if the owner gave the defendant permission to enter the property, this may be a valid defense to criminal trespass.
Necessity: In some cases, a defendant may be able to argue that they entered or remained on the property out of necessity. This might be the case, for example, if the defendant needed to use the property to protect themselves or someone else from imminent harm.
It is important to note that the specific defenses that are available to a defendant in a criminal trespass case will depend on the circumstances of the case and the laws of the state in which the offense occurred.