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Criminal Trespass Laws in Texas

If you have been charged with criminal trespass then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Goldstein & Orr. Our attorneys represent clients charged with criminal trespass and more serious property crimes throughout San Antonio, Bexar County, and the surrounding areas in Texas.

Important defenses exist to this criminal charge including the fact that you did not receive adequate notice. Call us today to discuss the case and your legal options. Call (210) 226-1463 today.

Elements of the Texas Criminal Trespass Statute

Under Texas Penal Code Section 30.05, criminal trespass includes the following elements:

  1. the person enters or remains on or in property of another;
  2. without effective consent and the person; and
  3. when the person had notice that the entry was forbidden or received notice to depart but failed to do so.

For purposes of the criminal trespass statute, the term “entry” is defined as the intrusion of the entire body.

Notice Must Proceed the Criminal Trespass Allegation

For trespass cases that hinge on whether the person had notice that the entry was forbidden, the term “notice” is defined to include a oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner. Notice can also occur when one of the following is proven:

  1. the property is surrounded by “fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock”;
  2. “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”;
  3. if certain specific conditions are met, the notice can include the “placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property”; or
  4. with 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.”

Penalties for Criminal Trespass in Texas

In most cases, a criminal trespass is charged as a Class B misdemeanor depending on the place where the trespass occurred. Trespass as a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Certain enhanced penalties and conditions apply if the property subject to the criminal trespass charge can include residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, an aircraft or other vehicle.

The crime is further elevated to a Class A misdemeanor if the person carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense. Even without a weapon, the offense can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the trespass occurred in a habitation or a shelter center, on a Superfund site, or in or on a critical infrastructure facility.

Defenses to Criminal Trespass

The statutory scheme specifically provides for certain defenses. Those defenses are related to the actor at the time of entering the property was a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel. A statutory defense also arises if the person was an employee or agent of an electric utility, a telecommunications provider, cable service provider, or video service provider.

A statutory defense also applies to employees of any municipally owned utility such as a gas utility or an electric cooperative when the person 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 was performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency.

This article was last updated on Friday, December 30, 2016.

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