Trespass in a Structure in Florida

If accused of Trespass in a Structure in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Trespass in a Structure

The crime of Trespass in a Structure can be committed in one of two ways:

  1. Willfully entering or remaining in a structure without being authorized, licensed, or invited; or
  2. Refusing to exit a structure after being asked by an owner or authorized agent, even though you were originally authorized, licensed, or invited to enter.

A structure is defined as a building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it, together with the curtilage thereof.

Penalties for Trespass in a Structure

The crime of Trespass in a Structure is a Second Degree Misdemeanor in Florida, but can be enhanced to a First Degree Misdemeanor if the structure is occupied or a Third Degree Felony if the defendant is armed during the trespass.

If convicted of Trespass in a Structure, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to sixty (60) days in jail.
  • Up to six (6) months of probation.
  • Up to $500 in fines.

Penalty Enhancements

In Florida, the penalties for Trespass in a Structure are enhanced if the structure was occupied or if the defendant was armed with a firearm or a dangerous weapon. These forms of Trespass in a Structure are referred to as:

Trespass in an Occupied Structure

The crime of Trespass in an Occupied Structure is a First Degree Misdemeanor in Florida.

A structure is considered occupied if the owners or other occupants happen to be present when the trespass occurs.

If convicted of Trespass of an Occupied Structure, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to twelve (12) months in jail.
  • Up to twelve (12) months of probation.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Armed Trespass in a Structure

The crime of Armed Trespass in a Structure is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 3 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

A person is considered armed if they are in possession of a firearm or another dangerous weapon when the trespass occurs.

If convicted of Armed Trespass in a Structure, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in jail.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Trespass in a Structure

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Trespass in a Structure include:

Stale or Overridden Warning

Where there is a structure that has multiple residents, such as an apartment building, a previous trespass warning cannot be the basis of a Trespass in a Structure charge if you are subsequently invited or allowed back in by a new resident or a person with greater authority.

Unenclosed Curtilage

To trespass on the curtilage of a structure, the curtilage must be enclosed. Where a defendant enters the unenclosed parking lot of a store, it cannot be considered the curtilage of the building for trespass purposes. [1]

Lack of Intent

One of the elements necessary to support a conviction for Trespass in a Structure is the intent to unlawfully enter the structure. Usually this is proven by showing that a person entered stealthily.

But if a person can show they thought entry inside the structure was permissible, a conviction for Trespass in a Structure will not stand because the trespass cannot be considered to have been done willfully.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Trespass in a Structure in Orlando or the Central Florida area, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. L.K.B. v. State, 677 So. 2d 925 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996)