Criminal trespassing of private property in Florida law is a serious crime, as it can lead to probation, fines, or significant jail time. It can also stay on your public record and appear in background checks, posing as a roadblock for things such as hiring or leasing.
If you have been charged with trespassing, it is in your best interest to do what is necessary to beat this criminal offense charge.
In this guide, our team at Mike G Law will cover how to beat a criminal offense, such as criminal trespass. We will use our extensive experience and knowledge to educate you on everything you need to know about the criminal tresspasing and inform you of what to expect along the way to dropping those criminal trespass charges.
How Is Trespassing Defined in Florida Law?
According to Florida law, criminal trespass is when a person willfully enters another person’s property without receiving an acceptable invitation or acquiring the proper licensing or authorization. Criminal trespassing of a property can also occur if a person enters someone else’s property with permission of property owners but refuses to leave even after the rightful occupant’s or owner’s verbal warning to do so.
What Is the Punishment for Those Charged With & Found Guilty of Criminal Trespass?
The punishment for individuals charged with and found guilty of trespassing charges will vary depending on the circumstances of this legal issue and the outcomes of a civil lawsuit.
Florida law classifies criminal trespass on private property other than a structure or conveyance as a first-degree misdemeanor crime. This charge can result in up to one year of jail time and a $1,000 fine.
The punishments for first-degree trespass will become much more severe based on the specifics of the property crime and the defense that the person convicted is willing to find. For example, if the individual was carrying a firearm or possessing another dangerous weapon around another person’s home or property, they will face more serious consequences. An individual would also face harsher punishments if they were hunting an endangered game or fur-bearing animal.
The location of the trespassing crime can also impact a person’s punishment. If an individual got caught trespassing in any of the following areas, a court could upgrade the trespassing charge to a third-degree felony:
- An agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility
- A domestic violence center
- An agricultural site for research or testing purposes
- A posted construction site
- A power plant
Based on Florida state law, an offender who commits a third-degree felony can face up to five years of probation, five years of jail time, or a $5,000 fine for their crimes.
It is essential to enlist the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to achieve the best possible outcome. Without the professional legal help of the right lawyer, an individual may face severe punishments for trespassing that were otherwise avoidable. It is best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like Mike G, who can help you understand your situation and follow the best course of action to drop those criminal penalties against you.
How to Get a Trespassing Charge Dropped?
A court will sometimes drop a criminal trespass charge, and the reasons will vary. For instance, the property owner of the premises or building where the misdemeanor crime took place might submit a notice or a brief description to the court that their trespassing harm has been satisfied or that the owner did provide consent to the person trespassing. In this case, the court can drop the criminal charges altogether.
However, this scenario is rare for a felony case. This is because the state of Florida, rather than a private citizen, brings a criminal tresspasing sentence against a potential offender.
A court might also drop a criminal trespass case if it lacks sufficient incriminating evidence. For example, if the arresting officer did not actually witness the crime, they have no grounds for a solid case and may be forced to drop it.
What Are Common Defenses of Trespassing?
A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer will evaluate your scenario and prepare a well-rounded defense for your trespassing cases.
Some common defenses to familiarize yourself with when learning how to beat trespassing criminal charges include:
Lack of Presence
This defense is one of the most basic and not necessarily secure; however, a defendant can consider it when understanding how to beat trespassing charges. Security cameras might have captured an individual who looked like you on the property at the time of the crime, but if you know you were not present, an experienced attorney can help you prove this fact. They will develop an alibi to confirm that you are innocent.
Lack of Notice or Improper Notice
If an individual was unaware that they were not allowed on a property, they might have sufficient grounds to dismiss a charge.
“No trespassing” signs must be visible and meet certain requirements. These requirements vary depending on the nature of trespassing signs, but some of the requirements include:
- Signs must be clearly visible from beyond the boundary of the property
- Signs may be placed no further than 500 feet apart
- Sign lettering must be no less than two inches in height for visibility
- Signs must be placed at all typical entrances to the property
If a property owner fails to have an adequate trespass warning (or any trespassing signs altogether), a court can assume that an offender was unaware that their presence was not welcome and possibly drop the trespassing sentence. Although, you would still need an attorney to defend you in court.
No Notice to Depart
This defense can be one of the most effective when approaching a trespassing property charge.
An individual may assume it is okay to remain on private property if the owner allowed them onto it and did not notify them to depart. A property owner needs to give a once-welcomed visitor a warning that they need to leave. If they do not, there are likely no grounds for a legitimate trespassing charge.
Lack of Intent
In some cases, prosecutors can lean on an individual’s stealthy entry as a means to prove that said individual entered the property with negative intent. If the entrance can be seen as more public or casual, especially without the presence of a locked door, find criminal defense lawyers who will argue a lack of malicious intent.
Public or Private Necessity
Did you enter a property to protect public safety, yourself, or a family member from death or serious bodily injury? Whether you entered the property to seek safety or refused to leave to maintain safety, you might have a solid defense.
Call Mike G Law to Take on Your Trespassing Charge
Are you facing a criminal trespassing charge? Do not navigate your case alone and find an experienced law firm that will defend your rights. Contact Mike G Law for legal assistance today; with 25 years of experience as a prosecutor, he is well-equipped to handle the fine details of your case. Schedule a free consultation, and you can discuss the specifics of your case. From there, Mike G will establish realistic expectations and help achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.