criminal trespass

What is Criminal Trespass in Texas? Criminal Trespass Charges and Defense

What is Criminal Trespass in Texas?

Criminal Trespass is defined in Texas Penal Code 30.05 and is defined as a person entering or remaining in or on property of another, without the effective consent of the owner, and the accused had notice that entry was forbidden or was given notice to depart and failed to do so. A criminal trespass charge in Texas is typically a Class B misdemeanor. However Criminal Trespass of a Habitation is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas.

Getting Criminal Trespass Cases Dismissed

Our attorneys often work with students and young individuals who are charged with criminal trespass and our goal is to seek a dismissal of the charges, either through diversion or negotiation. Contact us immediately if you’ve been charged with criminal trespass in North Texas. Almost every diversion possibility has a strict timeframe in which a first-time offender may be eligible for diversion.

For purposes of criminal trespass charges, “entry” means intrusion of a person’s entire body.

Notice can be provided by:

(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;
(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
(C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden.

Criminal trespass can be raised to a Class A misdemeanor if the trespass was in a habitation or shelter.

There are defenses to prosecution of criminal trespass that apply in certain situations.

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CRIMINAL TRESPASS

(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.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Entry” means the intrusion of the entire body.

(2) “Notice” means:

(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;

(C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;

(D) the placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are:

(i) vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width;

(ii) placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground or more than five feet from the ground; and

(iii) placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than:

(a) 100 feet apart on forest land; or

(b) 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land; or

(E) the visible presence on the property of a crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if harvested at the time of entry.

(3) “Shelter center” has the meaning assigned by Section 51.002, Human Resources Code.

(4) “Forest land” means land on which the trees are potentially valuable for timber products.

(5) “Agricultural land” has the meaning assigned by Section 75.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(6) “Superfund site” means a facility that:

(A) is on the National Priorities List established under Section 105 of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. Section 9605); or

(B) is listed on the state registry established under Section 361.181, Health and Safety Code.

(7) “Critical infrastructure facility” means one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders:

(A) a chemical manufacturing facility;

(B) a refinery;

(C) an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center, or electrical transmission or distribution facility;

(D) a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station;

(E) a natural gas transmission compressor station;

(F) a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;

(G) a telecommunications central switching office;

(H) a port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal, or other freight transportation facility;

(I) a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas; or

(J) a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station.

(8) “Protected freshwater area” has the meaning assigned by Section 90.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.

(9) “Recognized state” means another state with which the attorney general of this state, with the approval of the governor of this state, negotiated an agreement after determining that the other state:

(A) has firearm proficiency requirements for peace officers; and

(B) fully recognizes the right of peace officers commissioned in this state to carry weapons in the other state.

(10) “Recreational vehicle park” means a tract of land that has rental spaces for two or more recreational vehicles, as defined by Section 522.004, Transportation Code.

(11) “Residential land” means real property improved by a dwelling and zoned for or otherwise authorized for single-family or multifamily use.

(c) Repealed by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1138, Sec. 4, eff. September 1, 2009.

(d) An offense under this section is:

(1) a Class B misdemeanor, except as provided by Subdivisions (2) and (3);

(2) a Class C misdemeanor, except as provided by Subdivision (3), if the offense is committed:

(3) a Class A misdemeanor if:

(A) the offense is committed:

(i) in a habitation or a shelter center;

(ii) on a Superfund site; or

(iii) on or in a critical infrastructure facility; or

(B) the person carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor at the time of the offense was:

(1) a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel, as defined by Section 773.003, Health and Safety Code, acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty under exigent circumstances;

(2) a person who was:

(A) an employee or agent of:

(i) an electric utility, as defined by Section 31.002, Utilities Code;

(ii) a telecommunications provider, as defined by Section 51.002, Utilities Code;

(iii) a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Section 66.002, Utilities Code;

(iv) a gas utility, as defined by Section 101.003 or 121.001, Utilities Code; or

(v) a pipeline used for the transportation or sale of oil, gas, or related products; and

(B) performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency; or

(3) a person who was:

(A) employed by or acting as agent for an entity that had, or that the person reasonably believed had, effective consent or authorization provided by law to enter the property; and

(B) performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency.

(f) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the basis on which entry on the property or land or in the building was forbidden is that entry with a handgun was forbidden; and

(2) the person was carrying a concealed handgun and a license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, to carry a concealed handgun of the same category the person was carrying.

(g) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor entered a railroad switching yard or any part of a railroad switching yard and was at that time an employee or a representative of employees exercising a right under the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.).

(h) At the punishment stage of a trial in which the attorney representing the state seeks the increase in punishment provided by Subsection (d)(3)(A)(iii), the defendant may raise the issue as to whether the defendant entered or remained on or in a critical infrastructure facility as part of a peaceful or lawful assembly, including an attempt to exercise rights guaranteed by state or federal labor laws. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence, the increase in punishment provided by Subsection (d)(3)(A)(iii) does not apply.

(i) This section does not apply if:

(1) the basis on which entry on the property or land or in the building was forbidden is that entry with a handgun or other weapon was forbidden; and

(2) the actor at the time of the offense was a peace officer, including a commissioned peace officer of a recognized state, or a special investigator under Article 2.122, Code of Criminal Procedure, regardless of whether the peace officer or special investigator was engaged in the actual discharge of an official duty while carrying the weapon.