Under Tex. Pen. Code § 30.05, individuals commit criminal trespass when they enter or remain on property belonging to others without consent or after receiving notice that entry was forbidden or notice to leave, and failing to do so. Notice under this code section can include written or oral communications from the owner or someone with control or authority over the property. However, notice also can be in the form of fencing, signage, properly placed purple paint marks, or the visible presence of a crop grown for human consumption.
Criminal trespass generally is a Class B misdemeanor under state law. However, the offense becomes a Class C misdemeanor if committed within 100 feet of a boundary of agricultural land or 100 feet of a freshwater area on residential property. In some circumstances, however, criminal trespass is a Class A misdemeanor offense, such as if individuals commit the crime:
- In a habitation or shelter area, Superfund site, or on or in a critical infrastructure facility
- In or on the property of an institution of higher education, when individuals have a previous conviction for trespassing on the property of an institution of higher education
- While carrying a deadly weapon
This code section specifically provides a defense for some individuals to prosecution for criminal trespass. These individuals include firefighters and emergency service personnel acting in the course of their official duties, employees of utilities, pipelines, and telecommunications or video services providers in the performance of their duties. Individuals who were employed by entities that they believed had consent to enter the property and were performing their employment-related duties also have a defense to prosecution. Certain defenses to prosecution also exist if individuals legally possessed firearms or ammunition, and the only basis for the trespass is that firearms or ammunition were not permitted.
An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We then can help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you, based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.