By Paul C. Looney, Attorney
When it comes to criminal trespassing, most people commit the crime without even knowing they are doing it. It is so easy to trespass on someone’s property that most people do not even consider what they are doing as illegal. To prevent legal trouble, here is some information on what criminal trespassing is, and what to do to prevent it.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 30.05, criminal trespassing is committed anytime a person enters a property he or she does not have the right to enter, or stays on a property after being told they do not have the right to be there. A person can also commit criminal trespassing if he or she has been given permission to be on a property, but are then told to leave and they refuse.
There are many ways a person can receive notice of trespassing. Entering a property that is enclosed to keep people out and to keep livestock in is considered trespassing. Signs posted around a property or building stating that entrance is forbidden obviously means that entering would be a crime. Also, if the property has a crop that is being grown for human consumption, or is in the process of being harvested, then entering that property is also a crime.
Most of us can probably think back to a time when we were younger and would run around in someone’s cornfield, but doing so is against the law.
Criminal trespassing is usually a Class B misdemeanor, but there are many exceptions. One exception is when someone trespasses on agricultural land, which is considered a Class C misdemeanor. Trespassing can also be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if the person commits the offense in a habitation or shelter center. The charge also becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the person carries a deadly weapon during the act of trespassing.
When it comes to gun laws, it is a Class C misdemeanor if a person enters a building with a firearm that does not allow open or concealed carry. However, if a person carries a firearm into a building that he or she is not supposed to, and are given notice to leave but do not, then it is a Class A misdemeanor.
In short, if a person is about to enter a property and feel as though doing so would be illegal, he or she shouldn’t do it because it probably is. If a person is planning to open or conceal carry on a property, he or she needs to look for the correct signage to know if they are allowed to have a gun there. When in doubt, a firearm should remain in the vehicle.