There are many reasons a person might enter someone else’s property. Not all those who trespass have unlawful or malicious intentions, but that doesn’t change the fact that the act of trespassing alone is a crime. If you’re facing criminal trespassing charges, you need a Colorado Springs trespassing attorney who can guide you through the legal process and ensure you’re treated fairly.
The act of trespassing in Colorado occurs when a person knowingly enters another person’s property without their consent. The crime can be charged in varying degrees depending on what type of property the alleged trespasser entered and their intent when entering that property.
According to Colorado law, trespassing falls into three different degrees of severity. The factors that impact the severity of this charge can be complex, and a Colorado Springs trespassing attorney can help you navigate the legal process.
Third-degree criminal trespassing occurs when an individual enters or stays on another person’s property without consent. The least severe of the three degrees of trespassing in Colorado, this charge is often given when the trespassing individual knew the owner of the property or posed no threat to them.
Second-degree criminal trespassing occurs when an individual enters fenced or enclosed private property without the owner’s consent. This applies to common areas of private dwelling properties like motels, hotels, apartment complexes, and condominiums.
While still less severe than a first-degree criminal trespass, this charge can be elevated to a felony offense when certain aggravating factors are present.
The most severe trespassing charge is reserved for those that enter another person’s home unlawfully. A first-degree criminal trespass doesn’t only apply to houses, though; it can apply to any dwelling or living quarters.
A defendant can be charged with this degree of trespassing if they unlawfully enter any of the following:
In some cases, entering someone’s motor vehicle can result in a first-degree criminal trespass charge. This is particularly the case if it can be proven that the defendant did so with criminal intent.
There are three degrees of trespass charges in Colorado, which can result in a felony or misdemeanor charge. However, even a misdemeanor trespassing charge can result in a sentence that includes jail time.
Colorado’s trespassing in the third-degree charge is classified as either a class 3 misdemeanor or a petty offense.
A Class 3 Misdemeanor can include up to $750 in fines and a maximum of 6 months in jail. A Class 1 Petty Offense can consist of up to $500 in fines and a maximum of 6 months in jail. Whether any aggravating factors were present during the offense impacts the severity of the sentencing.
Trespassing in the second degree is typically considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor, depending on the case. A Class 2 Misdemeanor will be charged if certain aggravating factors exist, which raise the penalties to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of 364 days in jail.
First-degree trespassing carries a Class 5 Felony charge and can carry penalties as high as three years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
If you’re convicted of a felony-level trespassing charge in Colorado, you’re not just risking your freedom and finances; you could also be risking your future.
Aside from monetary fines and possible jail time associated with the conviction, a felony on your record could mean additional disadvantages in your future. These disadvantages include more limited employment and housing options, child custody restrictions, and being prohibited from owning firearms. At Right Law Group, our Colorado Springs trespassing attorney can help you mount a strong defense strategy to help you get your criminal charges dismissed, potentially helping you avoid jail time.
You have a lot at stake when you’re facing criminal charges like trespassing. Not only is your freedom at risk, but your financial situation and future employment opportunities could also take a hit.
Having an experienced lawyer on your side is crucial in criminal defense, so call a Colorado Springs trespassing attorney to ensure you’ve explored every possible avenue to mitigate your charges. Contact Right Law Group today for a free consultation.
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The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.
In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.
Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.
A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.
This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.
An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.
A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.
A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.
After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.
At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.
A factor that could increase a petty trespassing offense to a misdemeanor is whether the property unlawfully entered is considered agricultural land by the county assessor.
Trespassing charges are further increased to felony charges if it can be proven that the accused person intended to commit a felony when entering the premises.
The most crucial thing prosecutors must prove in a trespassing case is that the defendant knew—or should have known—that the premises were private property and were not given consent to enter.
Evidence that proves the defendant was aware that they were not permitted on the property includes the presence of barriers like fences, gates, walls, or shrubs. It can also have property signs reading “No Trespassing” or “Private Property.”
A few defenses could either lessen the penalties for trespassing or dismiss the charges altogether.
These defenses include:
The burden of proof lies with the prosecution to establish that an alleged trespasser was not permitted on the property and that they knew as much.