In Texas, criminal trespass charges often stem from a person entering private property without the consent of the owner or for refusing to leave a premises or property after being ordered to leave or coming back after receiving a trespass warning. There are a number of scenarios that could constitute criminal trespass. For example, you can be charged with criminal trespassing for refusing to leave a store when asked or by going on someone’s property that has a “Do Not Enter” sign posted.
Criminal trespass is defined in Texas Penal Code 30.05. It states that a person commits criminal trespass if he or she enters or remains in or on the property of another without the effective consent of the owner, and the accused:
Property can include land, a residence, an apartment, an RV park, a business, an aircraft or other vehicle.
Criminal Trespass is generally a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. However criminal trespass of a habitation, a shelter, or critical infrastructure facility, is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.
To be convicted of criminal trespass, the prosecutor must prove that accused had “notice” that the entry was forbidden. Under the law, notice can mean:
(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;
(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
(C) 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.
Purple paint on trees and fences basically mean “No Trespassing.” A law that was enacted in 1997 allows Texas landowners to provide notice that entry is forbidden by painting trees, posts or fences purple, as long as the purple marks are:
According to the law, it is a defense to prosecution if the individual entering the property is:
In Texas, it is against the law to openly carry a handgun on someone else’s property where it’s forbidden. This trespassing law is relatively new and can be found in Chapter 30 of the Texas Penal Code in Sec. § 30.07. The law says that a license holder commits an offense if the license holder:
The law says a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200. The punishment is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor if, after entering the property, the license holder was personally given the notice by oral communication and subsequently failed to leave.
Our attorneys often work with students and young individuals who are charged with criminal trespass. Our goal is to seek a dismissal of the charges, either through diversion program or negotiation. Contact us immediately if you’ve been charged with criminal trespass in North Texas. Almost every diversion possibility has a strict timeframe in which a first-time offender must apply. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation with a Fort Worth criminal trespass lawyer.