What Is Criminal Trespassing?

Article Details
  • Written By: C. Daw
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
65% of same-sex couples and 40% of heterosexual couples in the United States who started dating in 2017 met online.  more...

February 28 ,  1953 :  Watson and Crick announced the discovery of the structure of DNA.  more...

Criminal trespassing is when a person, or group of people, goes onto, or into, someone else’s property without having permission from the current owner. There are various stages of this crime, as well as numerous defenses that can be used to fight against charges. Trespassing of this nature is more commonly called breaking and entering, but it can also be called negligent trespassing or unlawful access. No matter what level of crime is committed, and what it is called, it is basically when someone else’s house, business, property, or anything else that they own is entered into by another person that does not have prior permission to do so.

There are various different levels of this type of crime. The basic criminal trespassing charge is simply when a person ventures into an area where they have not been invited. In the process of trespassing, there may be more severe crimes committed such as going onto someone’s property to inflict damage, or to steal, or to even cause bodily harm to the owner or owners. There is also armed and non-armed criminal trespassing, depending upon whether a weapon is in the possession of the perpetrator or not. All of these various types of crimes carry various charges in different areas, but the basic premise of it is the same.


The charges are considered to be a misdemeanor offense in most areas, but in severe cases they can be charged as a felony. The authorities do not treat this act lightly, and some serious fines and jail time can accompany a charge of this nature. This will vary with the area, but when a state or federal government building or property is involved it is guaranteed to be tried in a court with maximum penalties in mind. Usually the person that has had their property violated is required to press charges and testify in court, but in some areas the state will pursue the offender and press charges with or without the statement of the owner.

When it comes to defending against a criminal trespassing charge there are a few basic avenues that can be taken, especially if the person charged is not truly guilty. If the area was not prominently marked with signs or fencing then it could have been simply an accident that the person crossed into the owner’s property. Another common defense is that the company was open for business during the time of the alleged offense, meaning that it was not criminal trespassing. The final defense that can be used, in some instances, is that the person who committed the crime was coerced into crossing the boundary lines. This could have been from a friend, a person already on the property, or an owner trying to get the person into trouble with the law.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 2

Great article that talks about the consequences of breaking the law. I don't know about anyone else, but it's certainly made me think twice about trespassing.

Post 1

Trespassing is definitely something people need to be careful about. Whether intentional or unintentional, it's against the law regardless, and the consequences can be severe, as the article states. Breaking the law is no laughing matter, and though sometimes it may seem like you can get away with it, why take the risk? It's not worth spending years in prison for.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?