While criminal trespass may sound like a somewhat minor offense, the crime still carries serious penalties that may include large fines and possible jail time. Many people accused of criminal trespass were often under the impression that they had permission to be on the premises involved in the alleged offense.
The type of property that was entered or remained on determines the grade of the crime. Texas does allow for certain affirmative defenses against these charges, so it is critical for any person who has been accused of criminal trespass to immediately retain legal counsel.
Attorney for Criminal Trespass Arrests in Houston, TX
If you were arrested anywhere in southeast Texas for an alleged criminal trespass offense, you should not delay in seeking legal representation. Horak Law aggressively defends clients accused of theft and property crimes in Montgomery County, Waller County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Harris County, and Liberty County.
Matt Horak is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston who can fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Harris County Criminal Trespass Information Center
- When can a person be charged with this crime?
- What are the consequences of being convicted?
- Are there any defenses against criminal trespassing charges?
- Where can I find more information about criminal trespass in Houston?
Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05(a), an alleged offender commits criminal trespass if he or she enters or remains on or in the property of another party without effective consent and the alleged offender had notice that the entry was forbidden or received notice to depart but failed to do so. Texas Penal Code § 30.05(b) provides definitions for 11 key terms relating to criminal trespass offenses:
- Entry — The intrusion of the entire body;
- Notice — Oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner; fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock; 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; the placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width; 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 placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than 100 feet apart on forest land or 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land; or 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;
- Shelter Center — A program that is operated by a public or private nonprofit organization and provides comprehensive residential and nonresidential services to victims of family violence;
- Forest Land — Land on which the trees are potentially valuable for timber products;
- Agricultural Land — Land that is located in this state and that is suitable for use in production of plants and fruits grown for human or animal consumption, or plants grown for the production of fibers, floriculture, viticulture, horticulture, or planting seed; forestry and the growing of trees for the purpose of rendering those trees into lumber, fiber, or other items used for industrial, commercial, or personal consumption; or domestic or native farm or ranch animals kept for use or profit;
- Superfund Site — A facility that 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 is listed on the state registry established under Health and Safety Code § 361.181;
- Critical Infrastructure Facility — One of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders: A chemical manufacturing facility; a refinery; an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center, or electrical transmission or distribution facility; a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station; a natural gas transmission compressor station; a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility; a telecommunications central switching office; a port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal, or other freight transportation facility; a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas; or a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station;
- Protected Freshwater Area — That portion of the bed, bottom, or bank of any navigable river or stream that lies at or below the gradient boundary of the river or stream (term does not include that portion of a bed, bottom, or bank that lies below tidewater limits);
- Recognized State — 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 has firearm proficiency requirements for peace officers and fully recognizes the right of peace officers commissioned in this state to carry weapons in the other state;
- Recreational Vehicle Park — A commercial property that is designed primarily for recreational vehicle transient guest use and for which fees for site service connections for recreational vehicles, as defined by Transportation Code § 522.004(b), are paid daily, weekly, or monthly; and
- Residential Land — Real property improved by a dwelling and zoned for or otherwise authorized for single-family or multifamily use.
Texas Penal Code § 30.05(d) establishes that criminal trespass is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 when the alleged offense is committed on agricultural land and within 100 feet of the boundary of the land or on residential land and within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area. Criminal trespass is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000 when:
- the alleged offense is committed in a habitation or a shelter center; on a Superfund site; or on or in a critical infrastructure facility; or
- the alleged offender carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the alleged offense.
In all other cases, criminal trespass is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000.
Numerous affirmative defenses against criminal trespass charges are established under Texas Penal Code § 30.05. For example, Texas Penal Code § 30.05(e) states it is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alleged offender at the time of the offense was a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel, as defined by Health and Safety Code § 773.003, acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty under exigent circumstances or a person who was an employee or agent of any of the following performing a duty within the scope of that employment or agency:
- an electric utility, as defined by Utilities Code § 31.002;
- a telecommunications provider, as defined by Utilities Code § 51.002;
- a video service provider or cable service provider, as defined by Utilities Code § 66.002;
- a gas utility, as defined by Utilities Code § 101.003, which for the purposes of this subsection includes a municipally owned utility as defined by that section;
- a gas utility, as defined by Utilities Code § 121.001;
- a pipeline used for the transportation or sale of oil, gas, or related products; or
- an electric cooperative or municipally owned utility, as defined by Utilities Code § 11.003.
Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05(f), it is also a defense to prosecution under this section that 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 the alleged offender was carrying a license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, to carry a handgun and a handgun in a concealed manner or in a shoulder or belt holster. Texas Penal Code § 30.05(g) establishes that it is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alleged offender 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.).
Stream Navigation Law | Criminal Trespass | Texas Parks and Wildlife — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is a state agency with the mission, "To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." On this section of the TPWD website, you can learn more about what constitutes criminal trespass on private property adjacent to streams in Texas. The website discuss the five forms of notice that may be provided.
Trespass Affidavit (For Residential Property) — Many law enforcement agencies in Texas have criminal trespass affidavit programs that allow property owners or persons responsible for the property to work together with police departments to reduce criminal activities on private property. Use this link to view a trespass affidavit from the Houston Police Department. You can also view a Harris County trespass affidavit.
Horak Law | Houston Criminal Trespass Defense Lawyer
Were you recently arrested for criminal trespass in southeast Texas? You will want to contact Horak Law right away.
Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak represents residents of and visitors to Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, League City, Missouri City, Pasadena, Pearland, Richmond-Rosenberg, Spring, and many other surrounding areas of Harris County. Call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 today or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.