Being arrested for trespassing can be an awful experience. Whether you knowingly crossed a boundary on someone’s personal property or stepped onto another’s land unintentionally, the consequences of trespassing are significant.
Unfortunately, trespassing laws and charges are not always clear, and it can leave those charged in the dark about what to expect. Here’s what you need to know, if you were recently arrested for trespassing.
What is trespassing?
There are several different types of trespassing. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on land trespass, which refers to knowingly entering another owner’s land or property without permission.
What is the punishment for those found guilty of trespassing?
In short, it depends. If no additional offenses were committed—meaning your charge says trespassing was all that occurred—that qualifies as a misdemeanor. A first offense for trespassing is often a fine.
If you were found guilty of a willful or malicious trespass—meaning there was intent for another crime like burglary—if there were damages, or if this is a subsequent offense, then the punishment could include a jail or prison sentence, as well as an increased fine.
Can you fight a trespassing charge?
Yes, you can defend yourself against a trespassing charge. Some common examples of trespassing defenses include:
- You had the consent of a landowner to enter their property.
- You had reasonable cause to believe you weren’t trespassing, e.g. there were no signs to indicate you were on private property.
- There was a public or private necessity to trespass, e.g. you entered the property to protect public safety, a family member or yourself from harm.
What should you do after being arrested for trespassing?
Once you’ve been arrested, you can and should seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced in property law or criminal defense. They will be able to assess the particular factors of your case, provide advice and support you through the legal process. From identifying mitigating circumstances to pursuing a resolution with the landowner, your attorney can guide you through the legal system, strategically and efficiently.
Being arrested for land trespassing can be disconcerting and stressful, but a knowledgeable attorney is key for reaching a favorable outcome. If you or a loved one is dealing with a trespassing charge in Mississippi or Tennessee, contact me today to discuss your case.