Like most areas of law, criminal trespass cases aren’t always clearly defined. There are many circumstances that surround each case, and the success of your legal defense depends on a number of factors.
Understanding the criminal trespassing laws in Georgia is the first step to protecting yourself and avoiding costly fines and potential jail time.
Working with a skilled attorney gives you the resources you need to navigate the legal system and determine the best options available to you.
Criminal Trespass and the Law
Georgia state law defines criminal trespass as entering another person’s property for illegal purposes. Some forms of property can be considered extensions of a person’s premises and include automobiles, boats, and aircraft.
The intent to commit an unlawful act must be demonstrated in order to charge a person with criminal trespassing. This protects individuals who accidentally enter another person’s property without intent to commit an unlawful act.
Another subsection includes ignoring the requests to leave someone’s property when you have been asked to do so. Refusing to leave as well as ignoring signs indicating that trespassing isn’t allowed may result in an arrest.
Also, arrests can be made in cases where a person damages their own property. Other cases involve one person’s interfering with the possession or ownership of another’s property. These circumstances fall under criminal trespass laws.
Three Elements of Criminal Trespassing
A criminal trespass consists of three elements:
- The unlawful entrance (or refusal to leave) of another person’s property
- Damages caused to that property
- The defacement or defiling of private property
However, a case does not have to include all three in order to reach a criminal trespass conviction.
Entering a person’s property to commit unlawful acts include crimes of burglary and assault. If the property owner hasn’t provided consent, then you may be considered to be trespassing upon his or her property.
The permission to enter a person’s property can only be granted by its owner or legal occupant. Signs, fences, locks, and other items are often used to let others know that they may not enter the premises without permission.
Parents or guardians must provide consent in cases that involve minors, as minors aren’t legally authorized to give someone permission to enter your property.
Intent and the value of damages are important elements that must be considered in a criminal trespass charge. In this case, the action would result in a misdemeanor charge for the accused party.
When the cost of the damages are above $500, then the charge would be considered a felony and classified as 2nd Degree Criminal Damage to Property.
The defacement or defiling of property occurs in cases that involve monuments, gravesites, plaques, and memorial markers.
These items must be privately owned in order for damages to be considered within the definition of criminal trespassing.
Legal Defenses to Criminal Trespass
Having the proper legal resources is essential to defending your rights in a criminal trespassing case. If any of the elements mentioned above are effectively refuted, defendants can avoid a criminal conviction.
In some cases, the property in question may have been deemed accessible by the public.
If a person was asked to leave a property, he or she may be shown to have left in a timely manner after being requested to do so.
An attorney may also provide a defense against any alleged interference with ownership or possession of property as well as questioning the value of the property or any damages.
A criminal trespass conviction may result in time in jail, community service, and costly fines. Providing the right legal defense can help you avoid these and other long-term consequences.
Knowing what factors constitute criminal trespassing helps you prepare a legal defense that protects you against the potential consequences of a conviction. Your attorney will provide all of the resources you need to fully protect your rights in a court of law.