Trespass on Property in Florida

If accused of Trespass on Property in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Trespass on Property

The crime of Trespass on Property can be committed in one of two ways:

  1. Willfully entering or remaining on any property other than a structure or conveyance without being authorized, licensed, or invited when notice against entering or remaining is given, either by actual communication or by posting, fencing, or cultivation.
  2. Willfully entering or remaining on the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime thereon, without authorization, license, or invitation.

Unenclosed curtilage is defined as the unenclosed land or grounds, and any outbuildings, that are directly and intimately adjacent to and connected with the dwelling and necessary, convenient, and habitually used in connection with the dwelling.

Penalties for Trespass on Property

The crime of Trespass on Property is a First Degree Misdemeanor in Florida, but can be enhanced to a Third Degree Felony if the trespass occurs under certain circumstances.

If convicted of Trespass on Property, 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

Trespass on Property is enhanced to a Third Degree Felony if:

  • The accused is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • The accused hunts an endangered, fur bearing, or game animal;
  • The area is a posted construction site;
  • The area is a posted agricultural site for testing or research purposes;
  • The area is a posted domestic violence center; or
  • The area is a posted agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility.

The crime of Third Degree Felony Trespass on Property is classified as a Level 3 Offense under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Third Degree Felony Trespass on Property, 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 on Property

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

Improper Posting

If the Trespass on Property charge is based on the posting of "No Trespassing" signs, the signs must conform to the specific posting requirements of Florida Statute 810.011 or the land is not properly posted and a conviction for Trespass on Property will not survive. [1]

Lack of Intent

One of the elements necessary to support a conviction for Trespass on Property is the intent to unlawfully trespass on the property. Usually this is proven by showing that a person entered stealthily.

But if a person can show they thought entry onto the property was permissible, a conviction for Trespass on Property will not stand because the trespass cannot be considered to have been done willfully.

Landlord-Tenant Conflict

Absent restrictions in a lease agreement, a landlord cannot enforce a trespass warning against a person a tenant has invited onto the property. [2]

Such a situation frequently arises when a person is trespassed from an apartment complex by an property management agent and trespassed person is subsequently invited back by a tenant of the apartment complex. Under such circumstances, the person is not trespassing, because the tenant's invitation superceded the property management's trespass warning.

Stale Trespass Warning

Where there is property that has multiple owners, a previous trespass warning cannot be the basis of a Trespass on Property charge if you are subsequently invited or allowed back on by a different owner or a person with greater authority.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Trespass on Property 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. B.P. v. State of Florida, 610 So. 2d 625 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992)
  2. LDL v. State, 569 So. 2d 1310, 1312 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990)