Criminal Trespass to Land
The crime of criminal trespass to land is a misdemeanor offense that can lead to up to a year in jail, hundreds of dollars in fines and fees, and civil liability. Criminal trespass to real property or land is a serious offense that can cost you greatly in the long run. Along with the potential for jail time and monetary fees, a conviction for trespass to land can serve as a predicate in the event you are arrested for a subsequent crime. Though this offense should be taken with seriousness, defendants charged with criminal trespass to land should rest assured that not all hope is lost. There are several defenses available against the charge and a skilled criminal defense attorney can fight to see the charge dismissed or minimal penalties imposed.Effective Defense against Criminal Trespass to Land Charges
The criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg have decades of experience representing defendants against the charge of criminal trespass to land. Our attorney team extensively investigates each case and, armed with this knowledge, mounts a fervent defense. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg has successfully obtained acquittals for several clients charged with criminal trespass to land as well as favorable plea deals.Criminal Trespass to Real Property: An Overview of Illinois Law
The crime of criminal trespass to real property, commonly also referred to as criminal trespass to land, is defined in 720 ILCS 5/21-3 . Under this section of the Code, a person commits criminal trespass to real property when he or she:
- Knowingly and without permission enters or remains within or on a building;
- Enters upon the land of another, after receiving prior to the entry, notice from the owner, lessee, or other occupant that entry is forbidden;
- Remains upon the land of another, after receiving notice from the owner or occupant to depart;
- Presents false documents or falsely represents his or her identity orally to the owner or occupant of the building or land in order to obtain permission from the owner or occupant to enter or remain on the building or land;
- Intentionally removes a notice of foreclosure before the date and time set out in the notice; or
- Enters land being used or capable of being used for an agricultural purpose, such as growing crops, containing livestock, having an orchard, with a motor vehicle, which can be any four or two wheel vehicle, after receiving, prior to entry, notice from the owner or occupant that the entry is forbidden or remains upon the area after receiving notice from the owner to depart.
Generally, to be convicted of the crime of trespass to land (not a building), the prosecutor must show the defendant had notice that entry is forbidden. An individual will be found to have notice if they are notified personally, either in writing or orally, including a court order, or if a printed or written notice stating no trespassing has been posted. To be valid, the notice must be clearly posted or exhibited at the main entrance to the land or on the forbidden part of the land.
In the alternative, the owner or lessee of real property can place identifying purple marks on trees or posts. The marks must be vertical, at least 8 inches in length, and the bottom no less than three feet. They should be readily visible to someone approaching the property. In the alternative, the marks can be placed on the top two inches of a capped post. Along with these markings, the owner must still provide notice, as described in the paragraph above.Exceptions and Defenses to the Criminal Trespass to Land Charge
There are several important exceptions to the trespass to land charge which make it legal for others to enter or remain on the property of another. Further, there are numerous defenses that one charged with the crime can raise. The following is a list of exceptions and defenses:
- Open to the public— the criminal trespass to real property provisions do not apply to being in a building which is open to the public while that building is open to the public. Further, if a defendant reasonably believes the building is still open to the public, entrance in good faith will not constitute criminal trespass.
- Those living on the land— the crime does not include those who are living on the land with permission from the owner, whether a migrant worker or otherwise, or their guests.
- People who beautify unoccupied and abandoned residential and industrial properties— the building must be abandoned for at least one year and taxes not paid for two. Beautify means to landscape, repair dilapidation, clean up litter, etc.
- Entrance for emergency purposes— if you are in imminent danger of damage or destruction, you will not generally be criminally responsible for trespass if you enter the property of another.
Criminal trespass to land is generally a Class B misdemeanor, but will be a Class A offense for those who enter or remain on agricultural property with a motor vehicle, including a moped, motorcycle, or other two wheel vehicle. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to one year, up to two years of supervised probation, and a fine of up to $2,500. A Class B misdemeanor can result in a sentence of six months in jail, up to two years probation, and a fine of up to $1,500.
In addition, those who enter the land of another with a motor vehicle can be civilly liable for any damages made to the property, as well as the property owner’s court costs and fees.
While these punishments can have a serious impact on your life, livelihood, and freedom, with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney you can mount a strong defense to your charge of criminal trespass to land.The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg: Providing Aggressive Defense against Criminal Trespass to Land Charges
Chicago criminal defense attorney David L. Freidberg has more than 20 years experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal trespass to land. Our criminal defense attorneys have an unmatched understanding of the laws concerning the crime of criminal trespass to land and the possible defenses. The seasoned defense attorneys at The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg will investigate every pertinent fact to your case, often uncovering vital exculpatory evidence. We will mount a zealous defense with the intent of achieving the best possible outcome for our clients. The nature of the defense will vary depending upon your specific case, but we will often move to have the charges dropped based on lack of evidence. We defend against misdemeanor charges with the same aggressive defense as we would a felony charge, because we know the serious repercussions even a misdemeanor charge can have on your life and livelihood.
Facing any criminal charge can be frightening, but with the skilled representation of attorney David L. Freidberg, you can rest assured that your case will be defended to the fullest extent. David L. Freidberg has successfully defended thousands of clients and will aggressively fight for your freedom. Contact us or call us today at (312) 560-7100 or toll free at 1 (800) 803-1442 to schedule your free consultation today.