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The original 13th Century meaning of “trespass” was a violation of moral or social ethics — a sin. Today, trespass is most commonly the sin of wrongfully entering onto another’s property.

A person must be warned about trespassing. The Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.05 of the Texas Statutes declares that a person is guilty of criminal trespass if he or she enters or remains on another person’s property without the consent of the owner, and had notice but did not leave after being given notice that entry was forbidden.

Criminal trespass may occur in many places, including residential or privately owned land, buildings, or other structures, recreational vehicle parks, as well as vehicles, boats, and aircraft. In Texas, a conviction for criminal trespass may result in a sentence of time in jail as well as a heavy fine.

Austin Criminal Trespass Defense Lawyer

If you are accused of criminal trespass in Austin, Texas, or Travis County, Texas, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. A skilled attorney may be able to find problems with the prosecution’s case or the arrest itself. The attorney may be able to file motions to dismiss or suppress which would lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett serves people in the communities of Austin, Pflugerville, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas. Kevin Bennett is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend a criminal trespass charge.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett may be able to help you avoid a criminal trial for criminal trespass and negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges. If going to trial is the best way to resolve the case, then Kevin Bennett stands ready to defend you in front of a judge or jury. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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Definition of Criminal Trespass under the Texas Penal Code

The Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.05 defines criminal trespass as when “a person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:

  • Had notice that the entry was forbidden; or
  • Received notice to depart but failed to do so.”

Under the trespass statute, the term “entry” it defined to mean the intrusion of the entire body.

The definition of “notice” includes:

  • Oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;
  • Fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
  • A sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;
  • The placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are: vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width; placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground or more than five feet from the ground;  and placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than 100 feet apart on forest land;  or 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land;  or
  • 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.

The intent to commit a crime other than trespassing (such as theft) or the actual commission of another crime is not needed to arrest and prosecute a person for criminal trespass.

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Penalties for Criminal Trespass in Texas

Criminal trespass in Texas is generally classified as a Class B misdemeanor. A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor results in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

A Texas criminal trespass charge can be lowered or elevated from a Class B misdemeanor, depending on the place where the trespass occurred.

Criminal trespass is a Class C misdemeanor if committed 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. Class C misdemeanors are the lowest level of criminal offenses in Texas. The maximum penalty for a Class C misdemeanor conviction is a $500 fine with no jail time.

Criminal trespass is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed in a habitation (dwelling), a family violence shelter center, on a Superfund site, or on or in a critical infrastructure facility; or if the person carries a deadly weapon while trespassing.

The statute defines “habitation” as “a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle” (See Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.01.)

“Superfund site” is defined to mean a facility that is on the National Priorities List established under Section 105 of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. Section 9605);  or is listed on the state registry established under Section 361.181 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. (See Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30.05(b)(6) and 30.05(b)(7).)

“Critical infrastructure facility” means one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders:

  • A chemical manufacturing facility;
  • A refinery;
  • An electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center, or electrical transmission or distribution facility;
  • A water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station;
  • A natural gas transmission compressor station;
  • A liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;
  • A telecommunications central switching office;
  • A port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal, or other freight transportation facility;
  • A gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas; or
  • A transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station.

Penalties for a Class A misdemeanor conviction are a maximum of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

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Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Trespass Conviction

It’s a misconception that a criminal conviction can only result in steep fines and imprisonment. Unfortunately, a conviction or even an arrest can take away your rights and impose disqualifications that affect your job or government benefits. Additional collateral consequences can include, but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty obtaining student loans
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Difficulty obtaining housing

If you have been convicted for criminal trespass in Texas, it’s imperative that you seek the legal counsel of a criminal defense lawyer today. Kevin Bennett at The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is prepared to preserve your rights.

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Additional Resources

Texas Statutes, Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 30 — Read the state laws related to criminal trespass (Chapter 30.05) and offenses against property as contained in the Texas Statutes.

Criminal Trespass in Texas — Visit the website of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to find a Texas River Guide explaining criminal trespass. Although a person is permitted to use the bed and banks of a navigable stream, the use of private property adjacent to a stream can be a criminal trespass under Texas Penal Code Section 30.05. The article also explains five different ways that a trespass notice can be given under the Texas statute.

Informational Bulletin Concerning Criminal Trespass Notices on City Property in Austin, TX — Find the City of Austin Administrative Bulletin for Criminal Trespass Notices on City Property effective November 1, 2011, which was approved by the City Manager. The Administrative Bulletin establishes rules and procedures for issuing and reviewing a criminal trespass notice resulting from activities that occur in a city-owed or city-occupied building or on public lands owned by the City of Austin. Read more about the policy, definitions, roles and responsibilities, delegation of authority, prior warnings, and administrative review of a criminal trespass notice.

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Austin Criminal Trespass Attorney | Travis County, TX

If you were arrested for criminal trespass in Austin or Travis County, Texas, you should consider consulting with an experienced local criminal defense attorney who can explain the charges you face and help you determine what to do to address the charges.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients charged with criminal trespass in Austin, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas of Travis County. Kevin Bennett is an experienced and knowledgeable Austin lawyer who will thoroughly review the facts surrounding your case, and use his knowledge of Texas law and criminal legal procedure to weaken the prosecution’s case against you. He may be able to introduce evidence on your behalf that results in a reduction or dismissal of charges, but he is prepared to go to trial if necessary

Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 if you have been arrested for burglary. Your initial consultation is free, and it will begin the process of defending your freedom.

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