Overview of Florida’s Criminal Trespass Laws
You may not think too much about wandering onto someone else’s property, so you could be shocked to learn that this is a big deal under Florida law on criminal trespass. The basic description of the crime is willfully entering or remaining on real property without the owner’s permission, or returning to the location after the owner has prohibited access. However, there are many subtleties that create complications. Depending on whether your actions qualify for felony or misdemeanor charges, you could face serious penalties for a conviction.
There are defenses available, and a Florida criminal trespassing lawyer can assist in obtaining the best possible result in your case. An overview of this type of property crime may also be useful.
Four Forms of Florida Criminal Trespassing: There are multiple versions of criminal activity that qualify as trespassing, primarily distinguished by the type of property. They include:
Structure trespassing, which is entering or remaining in a physical building, whether temporary or permanent in nature.
- Trespassing of a conveyance, i.e., any type of motor vehicle, including a car, boat, trailer, aircraft, or motorcycle. A bicycle is not considered a conveyance.
- Property trespassing is entering or remaining on land, as separate from a structure or building;
- Trespassing on school grounds, a campus, athletic facilities, outbuildings, or other property is a serious crime, especially in the wake of school shootings. You could be arrested if you don’t have any legitimate reason to be there, even if you were a former student.
Penalties for a Criminal Trespassing Conviction: Understanding the four forms of criminal trespassing is important because it dictates the punishment you face if you’re found guilty. Potential penalties include:
- Criminal trespass on property is a First Degree Misdemeanor, the highest level of misdemeanor. For a conviction, you face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- The remaining trespassing crimes are Second Degree Misdemeanors, which still include severe sanctions. You could be incarcerated for up to 60 days, and your fine may reach $500.
- Criminal trespassing becomes a felony if you’re in possession of a deadly weapon when illegally present on someone else’s property. If convicted, a judge could sentence up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
There are multiple defenses to criminal trespassing, one of which involves the prosecutor’s burden. You must have intended to unlawfully enter upon the property, as opposed to making an honest mistake. Other defense options include:
- Having the permission of the owner;
- The property owner didn’t expressly communicate that he or she withdrew consent where you were initially lawfully present;
- The property is public space; and,
- You were present on the property because of an emergency or other urgent situation.
Trust a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer to Advocate on Your Behalf
If you’ve been arrested for criminal trespass and want to learn more about defense strategies, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a free consultation. Our team can provide additional information and explain how these cases work after reviewing your specific circumstances.