Nashville Trespassing Attorney
In the State of Tennessee, criminal trespass is a crime that involves entering someone else’s property or remaining on someone else’s property without their permission to do so, and aggravated criminal trespass involves a complicating factor. Nothing else must happen for the serious charge of criminal trespass to apply, which makes better understanding this charge critical. If you are facing a criminal trespass charge, the best path forward is with the professional legal guidance of an experienced Nashville trespassing attorney on your side.
The charge of criminal trespass is typically a property crime that simply means the accused is alleged to have entered or to have remained on any portion of someone else’s property when they didn’t have the owner’s consent to do so. It’s important to point out here that entry can mean entering with one’s body or entering via drone. While a charge of burglary requires that the accused had the intention of committing a felony, criminal trespass does not.
This means that if the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you simply entered or remained on the property in question without the consent of the owner, you could be convicted of criminal trespass. There is no need to prove that you intended to commit any of the following in order to convict you:
In other words, it doesn’t take much in terms of wrongdoing for a trespassing charge to apply.
One common defense that is woven into the criminal trespass statute is when the following elements apply:
- You reasonably believed that you had the owner’s consent to be on the property.
- You didn’t interfere with the property owner in terms of their use of the premises.
- You left the property immediately once you were asked to do so.
Fines and Penalties
The charge of criminal trespass is a Class C misdemeanor, which comes with a jail sentence of up to 30 days and fines of up to $50. It’s also important to consider the overarching social implications associated with having a criminal record.
Aggravated Criminal Trespass
There are certain additional elements that can elevate the charge of criminal trespass to aggravated criminal trespass. This charge typically applies when the accused knows that they aren’t wanted on the premises. Aggravated criminal trespass breaks down into two basic categories that include:
- The accused trespasser knows their presence will cause the property owner to be in fear.
- The accused trespasser caused property damage in order to gain entry to the property in question.
To convict on the basis of being on the property without consent and knowing that one’s presence will cause the property owner to be in fear, all the following elements must be present:
- The accused entered or remained on a property that was owned by someone else.
- The accused knew that they didn’t have the property owner’s consent to be there.
- The accused either knew that their presence would cause someone else to fear for their own safety or was reckless in relation to whether their presence would have this effect.
Causing Damage upon Entry
In order for a conviction that is based upon causing damage to the property upon entry, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knew they didn’t have the owner’s consent to be there and that the accused obtained entry to the premises by cutting, destroying, or otherwise removing one of the following mechanisms designed to keep trespassers out:
- A barrier
- A gate
- A lock
- A chain
Aggravated Criminal Trespass: Fines and Penalties
Aggravated criminal trespass that happens at any of the following is a Class A misdemeanor:
- A house
- An apartment
- Any other habitation
- A hospital
- The property or campus of any public or private school
A conviction carries the following fines and penalties:
- A jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days
- Fines of up to $2,500
It’s important to note that a conviction for aggravated criminal trespass at this level is not eligible for expungement in the State of Tennessee. Expunction refers to the removal of an offense from one’s criminal record – typically a first offense. When a charge is expunged, it’s destroyed or erased from the person’s record.
Aggravated criminal trespass charges that occur on most other premises are charged as Class B misdemeanors, which carry the following fines and penalties:
- A jail sentence of up to 180 days
- Fines of up to $500
Again, the social consequences can also be harsh.
The Matter of Consent
When it comes to criminal trespass charges, the matter of the property owner’s consent can be established in any of the following ways:
- Direct consent is given, such as when the property owner says, you may enter my property, you may stay on my property, or any other comment that carries either meaning.
- Consent is inferred, such as on commercial properties that are open to the general public.
- Consent is given through signage that makes it clear the property owner welcomes the general public.
When Property Owners Make the Matter of Trespassing Clear
When property owners post no trespassing signs that clearly designate trespassing is not allowed, they help to create a stronger legal barrier to the criminal act. Such signs must be clearly posted in a manner that makes them reasonably likely to be seen, must be legible, and must adhere to specific posting requirements.
An Experienced Nashville Criminal Trespassing Attorney Can Help
If you are facing a criminal trespass or an aggravated criminal trespass charge, the accomplished Nashville criminal trespass attorneys at Raybin & Weissman have an impressive range of experience successfully advocating for our valued clients’ best legal outcomes, and we’re standing by to also help you. The consequences of a conviction are too serious to leave to chance, so please do not delay reaching out and contacting or calling us at 615-256-6666 for more information about how we can help you today.