Criminal trespass is an offense to property that requires an intentional:
- Entrance or remaining upon premises without authority;
- Damage to another person’s property of $500 or less; or
- Defacement, mutilation, or defiling certain private property
Under Georgia law, criminal trespass is a misdemeanor. A conviction may result in criminal sanctions, jail time, and community service. To fight this charge and avoid conviction, contact Atlanta criminal trespass attorney David Schnipper for help.
Damage of $500 or Less or Interference with Personal Property
A person may be charged with criminal trespass if he or she intentionally damages another person’s property without that person’s consent and the damage caused is $500 or less. A person also commits the offense if he or she “knowingly and maliciously interferes” with another person’s use or possession of personal property—regardless of amount—without consent.
Damage to Certain Property
Criminal trespass occurs when a person “defaces, mutilates, or defiles” any of the following:
- Grave, monument, or memorial of deceased military personnel
- Monument, plaque, marker, or memorial dedicating or honoring military service
- Includes military service to Georgia, United States, or other U.S. states
The property described in this section must be privately owned or located on privately owned land.
Legal Defenses to Criminal Trespass
Common defenses involve casting doubt on certain elements of the crime, including whether the property was open to the public, whether the alleged trespasser timely exited the property upon the owner’s request, and whether he or she substantially interfered with the person’s use or possession of property. The extent of the alleged damage, the value of personal property, and the provision of proper notice forbidding entrance are also important factors to consider.
What is Criminal Trespass?
Criminal trespass does not require all three of the elements listed above. Georgia law sets forth three different actions that, taken alone, constitute crimes to property. Each of them is derived from the common law definition of trespass as “wrongful interference” with another’s possession of real or personal property. Each element of the crime is explained in further detail below.
Unauthorized Entrance Upon Property
A person commits criminal trespass if he or she enters onto another person’s real property for an unlawful purpose. This could mean to commit a crime such as assault, burglary, or any act prohibited by law. Trespassing also means entering land without the owner or occupant’s consent. Only the rightful owner, occupant, or authorized representative can give permission to enter. They may also notify others that entry is forbidden by installing locks, posting signs, or fencing off the area. The crime likewise punishes those who remain upon property after receiving notice to depart. Eviction is one example. Different types of “property” include:
- Another person’s land, real estate, private residence
- Any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft
A minor cannot give permission or invite lawful entry without the parent or guardian’s consent.
David Schnipper Aggressively Defends Against Criminal Trespass Charges
If you were accused of criminal trespass, skilled Georgia criminal defense lawyer David Schnipper can help. He thoroughly investigates the circumstances of the alleged crime and presents persuasive evidence undermining the charge. Attorney Schnipper is a seasoned attorney with extensive experience fighting criminal trespass charges. Attorney Schnipper worked for two District Attorney’s offices, and he has an insider’s knowledge of how prosecutors build their cases. Attorney Schnipper will aggressively protect your rights and defend your freedom. For a free consultation, call 404-545-5845 or contact us online.