In Colorado, trespass is a serious offense that can result in both civil and criminal liability. Trespass is the unauthorized entry onto another person’s property. It can take many forms, including physical intrusion onto the land, unauthorized use of another’s property, or remaining on someone else’s property after being asked to leave.
If you are facing a charge of trespass in Colorado, it is essential to understand the defenses that may be available to you.
A trespass conviction can have serious consequences, but several defenses may be available. These defenses include consent, mistake, necessity, public access, invitation, mistaken belief, no notice, and police action. We always recommend speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing a criminal charge. But today, let’s take a closer look at the potential defenses of the defendant in an action for trespassing.
Consent is a common defense against trespassing. If the property owner permitted you to enter the property, you did not trespass. However, it is essential to note that consent must be given by someone with the proper authority to do so. For example, if a groundskeeper permits you to enter the property, but the actual owner has not given permission, The State could still charge you with trespass.
Mistake is another legal defense against criminal trespassing. If you entered the property by mistake or accident, you may be able to use this defense. For example, if you thought you were entering a public park but accidentally entered onto private property, you may be able to argue that you did not intend to trespass.
If you entered the property out of necessity, you might have a defense against a trespass charge. For example, suppose you entered onto private property to avoid danger, such as to escape from a dangerous animal or to seek shelter during a storm. In that case, you can argue that your actions were necessary.
Many property types, such as a community park or a sidewalk, are open to the public. If you were on the property because it is open to the public or allows for public access, you did not commit criminal trespass.
If you are invited onto the property, you cannot face criminal trespass because you are permitted to be there. Invitations to enter the property can include express invitations, such as being asked to enter someone’s home, or implied invitations, such as a business open to the public (e.g., a supermarket).
If you mistakenly believed you were permitted on the property, you could assert this as a defense. In other words, if you thought you had a right to be on the property, even if that belief was mistaken, you did not have the requisite intent to trespass. For example, if you thought you had a right to enter a property because of an easement or because you believed it was an abandoned property, you may be able to argue that you did not intend to trespass.
Improper or No Notice
If the property owner did not provide adequate notice that entry onto the property was prohibited, you may be able to use this as a defense. Colorado law requires property owners to provide clear notice that entering the property is prohibited, such as by posting signs or fencing the property.
If you were on the property as part of a police action, such as to execute a search warrant or make an arrest, you could not be charged with trespass. Although this defense is much less likely, it is still possible and worth mentioning.
It is important to note that these defenses are not absolute and may not be available in all cases. The specific facts of each case will determine whether a particular defense is applicable. For this reason, it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing a trespass charge in Colorado.
Possible Civil Repercussions
In addition to criminal liability, trespass can also result in civil liability. If you are found liable for trespass, you may be required to pay damages to the property owner, including damages for any harm caused to the property or for any loss of use.
Criminal trespass in Colorado is a crime that occurs when someone enters or remains on someone else’s property without authorization or after being told to leave. This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Under Colorado law, there are three degrees of criminal trespass.
Third-Degree Criminal Trespass
Third-degree criminal trespass is the least serious form of criminal trespass and occurs when someone knowingly or recklessly enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission. Third-degree criminal trespass is generally a Class 1 petty offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail.
Second-Degree Criminal Trespass
Second-degree criminal trespass occurs when someone enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission and with the intent to commit a crime. Second-degree trespass is typically a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
First-Degree Criminal Trespass
As you might have guessed by now, first-degree criminal trespass is the most serious form. It occurs when someone enters or remains on someone else’s property and does so with a deadly weapon, while threatening another person, or causing property damage. Typically, first-degree trespass is a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
It is important to note that the severity of the charge can also depend on other factors, such as whether the property is residential or commercial, whether the property is fenced or posted with signs, and whether the person has been warned previously to stay off the property.
Criminal Trespass Defense Attorney
At Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., we believe in protecting every defendant’s constitutional rights. If you are accused of criminal trespass, you must begin strategizing your defense immediately. Let us put our decades of experience and knowledge to work for you. Contact us to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.