Did you know that about 100 Texans get fatally injured each year after trespassing onto railroad tracks? Trespassing is not only dangerous, but it’s also considered a crime in Texas. These laws have been put into place to protect both property owners and individuals who might otherwise wander onto someone else’s property.
Have you or a loved one recently been accused of trespassing? If so, then it’s important to inform yourself and the law and the potential consequences. Too many Americans mistakenly believe trespassing is a minor crime.
So, just how serious are trespassing laws in Texas? Learn everything you need to know about the law and ways to defend yourself below.
Defining Trespassing Laws in Texas
According to Texas law, trespassing happens when a person enters or remains on a property that belongs to someone else. On top of being on the property, the person must be on it without consent. The owner’s express orders to stay off the property could have occurred:
- In writing
- Through signage on the property
- Through gates or fences
- Through the visible presence of crops
If the person is caught on the property despite not having permission to do so, then they can be charged with criminal trespass.
While these laws mostly apply to privately owned property, you can also get charged with a crime if you’re found in other restricted areas like:
- Forest land
- Shelter center
- Agricultural land
- A superfund site
- A critical infrastructure facility
- A protected freshwater area
- An institution of higher education
The severity of your charges hinges on where you were when you got charged with trespassing.
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Consequences of a Trespassing Charge in Texas
Depending on where you were, you could get charged with either a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor. Here are the different distinctions of each crime:
- Class A: In a habitation, shelter, superfund, or critical infrastructure facility, while carrying a weapon, or multiple trespass charges on the property of a higher institution of learning
- Class B: Most other trespass crimes
- Class C: Within 100 feet of a agricultural boundary or freshwater area
The majority of trespassing cases in Texas result in Class B misdemeanor charges. If you were trespassing while also carrying a weapon, then your charges will immediately get upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor. You could also face additional charges due to the weapon, too.
If you get charged with a Class B misdemeanor, then you could get sentenced to up to six months in jail. On top of that, you could be subject to fines up to $2,000. If your crime gets elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, then you could face up to a year in jail. You could also get hit with fines up to $4,000.
Defending Yourself After Getting Arrested for Trespassing
Clearly, six months (or even a year) is a long time to serve for getting caught somewhere you aren’t permitted to be. If you’ve been accused of trespassing in Texas, then it’s important to reach out to a lawyer right away. Never admit to the police that you knew you shouldn’t have been in the area. Instead, wait until you speak with a lawyer before you answer any questions from the police.
Here are some of the most common defenses against trespassing charges in Texas:
- The property owner gave their consent
- Reclaiming property that belongs to you
- Public or private necessity
- You were performing a work-related duty
- Your rights were violated during your arrest
To be considered trespassing, you must have either had notice that you were not permitted to be in an area or received a notice to leave the area and failed to do so.
How to Find a Trespassing Defense Lawyer in Texas
Before you commit to a defense strategy, you’ll need to consider the specific elements surrounding your arrest and alleged crime. You’ll need to understand what type of evidence the authorities have against you and the specifics of the area in which you’re accused of trespassing on.
Often, the best strategy is to hire a criminal defense lawyer who can help you determine which defense strategy fits your situation the best. Are you currently looking for a lawyer? Follow these steps to vet a criminal defense attorney before you hire them:
- Ensure the lawyer has handled trespassing cases in the past
- Search for testimonials or reviews online
- Check the firm’s Google rating
- Ask how many cases the lawyer handles at one time
- Have a one-on-one consultation to ensure you can communicate well with the attorney
If you follow these steps, then you’ll find a reputable and trustworthy lawyer who can handle your case in Texas.
Have you been charged with criminal trespassing in Texas? Attorney Brett Podolsky can help »
So, How Serious Are Trespassing Laws in Texas?
Were you or a loved one charged with trespassing in Texas? If so, then you need to know how serious trespassing laws are in Texas. After reading this guide, you should have a better idea of what to expect.
You’ll likely get charged with a misdemeanor, which could mean you get taken to jail. Your best options are to bail yourself out of jail and hire a good defense attorney to represent you in court.
Are you looking for an attorney you can trust? Our office is dedicated to helping paper writings pursue justice for those who were wrongfully charged with a crime. Reach out to our office on our online form now to learn more about how we can help.