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Trespassing may not sound like most serious crime, but if not handled properly a conviction could still result in a potential jail sentence and a permanent mark on a person’s background. In Florida, trespass ranges from a second-degree misdemeanor all the way up to a third-degree felony, so it is not a charge that can be taken lightly. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in trespass charges. He has successfully represented hundreds of clients in all types of trespass cases and is standing by to offer a free consultation at his Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach offices, or any other convenient location from Miami to Port St. Lucie. Benjamin is also available to discuss the case over the phone at (954) 543-0305. He represents juveniles and adults in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties as well as the Treasure Coast jurisdictions of Martin County and St. Lucie County. Contact Benjamin anytime to find out how he can fight to have your charges dismissed at or before your first court date.
The basic definition of trespassing under Florida law is willfully entering a place without authorization, or remaining in a place after being told to leave. Unlike burglary, the state is not required to prove the defendant had any intention to commit a crime on or about the property. Simply being in a place where you are not supposed to be may be enough to sustain a conviction for trespass. Benjamin has dealt with multiple cases where the defendant was charged without knowing he or she was trespassing, and he fights to have these charges dropped before they go to court. Police officers routinely make mistakes when deciding to charge or arrest a person for trespassing, but an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to immediately contact the State’s Attorney’s Office to fight for a “no info” disposition, which means the case will never be formally charged. Benjamin can also assist with filing an application to expunge a trespass arrest.
There are two different types of misdemeanor trespass violations, and the severity of the charges depends on the type of property involved. Trespass in a structure or conveyance (vehicle) is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail. If the structure or vehicle was occupied by another person the charge is elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year. Trespassing on private property including the land surrounding a house (known as the curtilage) is also a first-degree misdemeanor regardless of whether there are other people around. Although rare, the owner or manager of the property actually has authority under the law to detain a person he or she believes may be trespassing until the police arrive. Misdemeanor trespass cases are handled in County Court, unless the charges are part of an additional felony, which is usually burglary of any degree. Benjamin has years of experience defending clients charged with misdemeanor trespass in South Florida, and is standing by to answer any questions about the defenses that may be available in your case.
Benjamin also specializes in defending clients charged with school trespass in South Florida, which is a fairly common crime for both juveniles and adults. A school means the grounds or facilities of any public or private school from kindergarten to high school, and includes school buses. Anyone who enters Florida school property without a legitimate reason to be there faces second-degree misdemeanor charges. If the person is told to leave and refuses, he or she could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for trespass upon the grounds of a school facility, and face arrest by law enforcement. Suspended or expelled students who return to their school prior to the end of the suspension or expulsion may also face school trespass charges. Under this provision the student faces a second-degree misdemeanor in juvenile court, or adult court if they are over the age of 18.
Florida is one of the few states that classifies certain trespassing cases as felonies. It is a felony to trespass with a firearm or other dangerous weapon regardless of whether the weapon was used, brandished or even visible. Felony armed trespassing charges will be filed if the defendant was arrested with a weapon or observed with a weapon while on or inside another person’s property or on school property without authorization. Armed trespass is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. There are numerous types of property that are also protected by felony trespass laws in Florida, with the most common being trespassing on a construction site. Construction site theft has been a major issue for years, and lawmakers attempted to combat this issue by encouraging builders to place visible warning signs all around their sites, which warn that trespassers face felony charges for entering the property. Other areas protected by felony trespass laws include commercial farms, domestic violence centers, chemical plants and airports. Anyone who breaks or injures a fence to gain access to a property could face additional misdemeanor criminal charges, but if the fence is used to contain animals, then the defendant can be charged with felony fence breaking. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida felony trespass lawyer who offers free consultations and is available to his clients 7 days a week. Call Benjamin today at (954) 543-0305 to find out how he can fight to have your charges dismissed.