The Ultimate Guide to Criminal Trespassing

Speak with a trusted domestic violence attorney in Georgia.

Are you facing criminal trespassing charges? Philip Kim Law, P.C. can offer you a solid defense in your case. Call us for more information.


Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.

Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.

Published on March 28, 2024.


What Is Criminal Trespassing?

Criminal trespassing is entering or remaining on someone else’s property without permission. The specific laws regarding criminal trespassing vary among states. However, in most jurisdictions, the following elements are required to commit criminal trespass:

  • Intentionally accessing someone else’s land

  • Remaining on the property of another person

  • Being on someone’s premises without permission

The attorneys at Philip Kim Law might be able to help you if you have been charged with criminal trespass. Read on to learn more about the circumstances that constitute an offense and how criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville can help.

Classifications of Criminal Trespassing

Trespassing is considered a criminal offense under the Georgia Criminal Code. Under this law, criminal trespass can occur if any of the following occur:

  • Intentionally causing less than $500 worth of damage to another’s property without their consent.
  • Entering the land or property of another person with the intent to commit a crime.
  • Entering someone else’s land or property after receiving notice that entry is prohibited.
  • Remaining on someone else’s property after being told to leave.
  • The defacing of a military memorial or gravestone, or the defacing of a memorial honoring military service on private property, or the defacing of a public utility.

Consequences of Criminal Trespassing

The offense is a fourth-degree misdemeanor if there was no violence or threat of violence. It may entail the following penalties:

  • A sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison

  • Probation or other forms of community control

  • Fines up to $250

In cases where there was violence or threat to human lives, penalties may include:

A criminal record can also result in the following issues:

  • Loss of employment or difficulty finding a job

  • Loss of professional licenses or trouble obtaining them

  • Difficulty renting properties in certain residential areas

  • Restrictions on participation in certain vocational or educational programs

  • Immigrants and naturalized citizens may encounter rejections during the immigration or naturalization process

A conviction for trespassing can carry additional negative consequences, as with any criminal offense. Besides criminal charges, trespassers may also be held civilly liable. Because trespassing violates someone’s property rights, a property owner can sue a trespasser for damages. In some instances, property owners can also ask the court for a restraining order in GA.

Common Defenses to Trespassing Charges 

In trespassing cases, individuals can use several defenses. Your choice will depend on the circumstances of the case. It’s essential that you consult a lawyer who can provide tailored legal advice.

Here are some common defenses to trespassing charges:

  1. Lack of intent: Trespassing requires proof that the accused individual knowingly entered the property without permission. Defendants may have a case if they can show that they lacked the intent to commit trespass. If they enter an area by mistake, for instance, the plaintiff may have a case if they did not gain access beyond a five-foot distance.
  2. Consent: If you had authorization to enter or remain on the property, you could argue that you had lawful authority to be there. This defense may involve providing evidence of explicit permission. For instance, a written consent or witness testimony.
  3. Mistaken identity: If you can prove that the person who approached your property boundaries was not you, you may have a valid defense. The key here is showing that the mistake was genuine and reasonable.
  4. Necessity: In certain situations, trespassing might be justified if it was to prevent harm. This defense often requires proving that there was no reasonable alternative. You also have to show that the criminal trespass was less significant than the harm it sought to prevent.
  5. Lack of notice: The property should have signs posted to show that entry is prohibited. If there are no signs, you could argue that there was no actual communication of the trespassing restrictions. However, this defense could be weakened if there were other indications that trespassing was forbidden. For example, if there is a fence or other enclosure manifestly designed to keep people away.
  6. Entrapment: It may be a valid defense if you can demonstrate that you were induced or coerced into trespassing. Entrapment occurs when someone persuades another to commit a crime they would not have committed.

The effectiveness of these defenses depends on your individual circumstances. Consult a criminal defense attorney near you for help determining the best defense strategy.

Understanding Criminal Trespassing: Scenarios and Defenses

Criminal trespassing involves knowingly entering or remaining on another’s property without permission. This definition encompasses a wide range of scenarios, from inadvertently stepping onto private land to intentionally damaging property. Legal definitions vary by state, but the essence remains constant: it’s an unauthorized invasion of someone’s space.

For instance, if you climb over a fence clearly marking private property, you’re likely committing criminal trespass. Conversely, if you’re walking through an open field without clear property markers and without the intent to trespass, the legal situation becomes murkier.

Defenses against criminal trespassing charges can be as varied as the scenarios themselves. Lack of intent is a common defense, applicable when the accused did not realize they were on private property. Consent, either explicit or implied, negates the unauthorized nature of the presence. In emergency situations, the necessity defense might apply, arguing that trespassing was the lesser evil compared to the harm it prevented.

Each case’s context is crucial, highlighting the importance of legal expertise in navigating these charges. At Philip Kim Law, we delve into the specifics of each case, employing our legal acumen to defend our clients effectively.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorney Now

Are you facing criminal trespassing charges? Philip Kim Law, P.C. can offer you a solid defense in your case. Our Georgia domestic violence lawyers have many years of experience defending clients. This extensive prior experience will allow us to assist you more effectively.

We at Philip Kim Law recognize the importance of handling criminal charges with utmost care and dedication. We pride ourselves on our commitment to honesty, tailored strategies, and responsive communication.

If you are charged with criminal trespassing, your first move should be to talk to our defense lawyers, who are dedicated to protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests.

Call us now if you have concerns or need an experienced, competent domestic violence attorney in Georgia.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Charged With Criminal Trespassing if I Didn’t Enter The Property?

Yes. Georgia’s criminal trespass statute covers more than just physically entering a property without permission. A person commits criminal trespassing if they intentionally deface, destroy, or demolish any part of a property.

How Long Does a Criminal Trespassing Charge Stay On My Record?

The length of time a criminal trespassing charge stays on your record will depend on several factors, including the jurisdiction, the severity of the offense, and the specific laws in place.

In Georgia, you may be able to expunge your criminal record by seeking the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

We can assist you in filing the expungement petition, as well as in gathering the documents and evidence needed. You will be able to start over if your petition is successful, your criminal record will be hidden from the public, and you will be able to start over.

Can Trespassing Be Considered a Hate Crime?

Trespassing itself is generally not considered a hate crime. However, it may be if trespassing is motivated by bias or prejudice against an individual in a protected group.

Can I Be Charged With Criminal Trespassing for Accidentally Wandering Onto Private Property?

Yes, even accidental entry onto someone’s property can lead to criminal trespassing charges if it’s proven that you did not have permission to be there. However, demonstrating a lack of intent can be a powerful defense in such cases.

What Are the Potential Legal Consequences of a Criminal Trespassing Conviction?

Consequences can range from fines and community service to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the trespass and any damage caused. In Georgia, penalties can include up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1,000 for misdemeanor trespassing.

How Does Philip Kim Law Approach a Criminal Trespassing Case?

Our firm meticulously examines the specifics of your case, exploring all possible defenses such as lack of intent, consent to be on the property, or necessity. We aim to provide a tailored defense strategy that protects your rights and seeks the best possible outcome.

Request a Free Legal Consultation

Philip Kim Law, P.C.
368 West Pike Street, Suite 203
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
(678) 203-6968
Fax: (678) 273-3501
kim map