In its simplest form, trespassing is charged when you enter a property that you know you have no right to enter or remain on a property after being informed that you have no right to be there. Criminal trespassing is considered a misdemeanor in Texas. In most cases, it is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. However, it can escalate to a more serious crime—a Class A misdemeanor—based on the circumstances of the case. People are commonly charged with trespassing if they enter without permission or are asked to leave after being granted that permission to properties that include:
- Private property (including vehicles)
- A property that has a clear, visible “no trespassing” sign.
- A property that is fenced to keep intruders out.
- A property that has been orally or textually communicated to be owned by someone else.
This would include allowing someone to stay at your home, and they refuse to vacate; remaining in a public building after the building is closed to the public or after an employee of a business in that building asks them to leave the premises; and removing, cutting down, destroying, or damaging wood or timber that is on another person’s property.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the penalties for committing this crime in Texas.
The Three Categories of Trespassing Charges
Trespassing is a misdemeanor with three categories that hold escalating punishment.
Class C Misdemeanor—This is a trespass that a person commits on or within 100 feet of agricultural land. It can also include residential land or land within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area. The penalty for this charge carries a fine of up to $500.
Class B Misdemeanor—Most trespassing cases are classified as Class B misdemeanors because there are no “aggravating or mitigating factors.” This charge is punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and a prison sentence of no more than 180 days.
Class A Misdemeanor—If the offender is carrying a gun or any other deadly weapon at the time of trespassing, they’d be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. These charges are also applied if a person has one or more previous trespassing convictions. In such cases, they’re required to pay a heavy fine of up to $4,000. In addition, their jail time is increased from 180 days to a full year.
How Can I Protect My Rights?
If you were recently charged with trespassing in Texas, make sure you consult with a lawyer as soon as you can. Whether you think you’ll be charged with a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor, take your case seriously, as these convictions become part of your criminal record.
More often than not, people underestimate trespassing cases because they are misdemeanors, but the penalties can be serious beyond a Class C category.
If you are facing trespassing charges, call Attorney JL Carpenter. She’s recognized for her attention to detail, experience, expertise, and rigorous approach. Over the years, JL has successfully gotten numerous trespassing cases dismissed in Texas.
As a former prosecutor and one of the more experienced criminal defense lawyers in the area, she’s committed to protecting each client’s rights, privileges, freedom, and future. Explore her practice areas, reviews, and case results before you get started.
Once you’re ready, reach out to her to start working on your case. JL also works on DWI, drug possession, family violence, and domestic violence cases across Texas, including Friendswood, Houston, and Clear Lake.