An individual criminally trespasses if they enters or remain on or in property (building or land) of another, without consent. The individual must also have had notice that the entry was forbidden; or received notice to depart but failed to do so. Often, with commercial buildings or stores, the person had been given a Trespass Warning in the past, instructing them not to return to that store, which serves as the notice that entry was forbidden.
(a) A person commits an offense if the 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: (1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or (2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.
Criminal Trespass penalties depend on where the trespass occurred. It's a Class B misdemeanor, typically, although it can be a Class A misdemeanor if trespassing in a habitation or the person was carrying a deadly weapon.
|Level of Offense||Punishment|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines|
|Class A Misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines|
What if I bought something at the Store (like a drink at a bar) and then I was asked to leave? Buying or shopping at a business implies a (strictly technical and legal) temporary license issued by the business, offering permission to enter. That license can be withdrawn at any time, as long as they provide you with notice (for instance, saying to you "leave or we'll call the police.") Failure to leave will result in a Criminal Trespass and likely citation or arrest.
Criminal Trespass cases range from simple trespass across a field, to refusing to leave a store when asked to leave, to entering businesses or buildings, including in the rare occassion, a person's home. Obviously each case is handled differently, depending on the facts and exactly where the trespass occurred. For more detailed information on what to expect in a particular Criminal Trespass case in Austin, call us for a consultation.
One of the main arguments or defenses against Criminal Trespass is that the person did not know they could not enter the area, and therefor did not have 'notice' that entry was forbidden. The statute attempts to limit this argument by providing that "Notice" means:
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