From time to time I get questions and calls about the Criminal Trespass law in Texas and how it works.
Section 30.05 of the Texas Penal Code covers trespassing. A person commits Criminal Trespass if he enters or remains on property of another; without the effective consent of the property owner, and when the person had prior notice that the entry was forbidden or received notice to depart and failed to do so.
Prior notice seems to be the most asked about element of the crime. The term “notice” is defined in the law to include written or oral notice from the owner or an authorized person acting on behalf of the owner.
Notice can also exist if it can be proven that:
A. The property is surrounded by fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or contain livestock:
B. A sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of the intruders, indicating entry is forbidden.
C. Notice can also include the placement of purple paint marks on trees or post on the property;
D. Also Notice can be the visible presence of crops grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if harvested at the time of entry.
Basically, this means if a person crosses a fence and enters property of another without their consent, they could be charged with Criminal Trespass as the fencing serves as a “Notice.” Entering onto property marked with signs such as “Posted No Trespassing” or is marked with Purple paint can also constitute Criminal Trespass. Also entering a farmers field where corn or other crops are being grown is prohibited and the cultivated field serves as a “Notice.”
Law Enforcement agencies often issue “Criminal Trespass Warnings” to individuals when a property owner does not want them returning or coming onto their property in the future. This also satisfies the “Notice” element in the law.
Most Trespassing violations are Class B Misdemeanors punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine. Certain violations can be a Class A Misdemeanor if the violator carries a deadly weapon in the commission of trespassing or if the trespassing is at a home or a shelter center.
Hunters should keep this in mind before crossing a boundary fence, even if looking for wounded game and always seek permission from the land owner first.
I hope this clears up any questions you may have about Trespassing.
Until next time stay safe and vigilant and report any suspicious activity to my office at 830-769- 3434.
The Sheriff can be emailed at David.soward@ acso-tx.org.
DAVID SOWARD is the elected Sheriff of Atascosa County. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 42 years and he is in his 7th year as Sheriff. Sheriff Soward holds a Master Jailer’s License as well as a Master Peace Officer’s License from the State of Texas.