It’s frightening to know that someone was on your property or in your home without your permission, and with good reason. Many crimes, particularly robberies and assaults, begin with the simple act of trespassing.
Pressing charges against a trespasser is one important option to consider. However, most property owners never consider that an injured trespasser could press charges against them.
It’s just one of the many reasons why hiring a lawyer with experience in these matters is so important.
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath are here to assist you in your premises liability case. Contact a Florida premises liability lawyer today for a free consultation, and keep reading to learn how to charge someone with trespassing.
What is trespassing?
Trespassing is when someone enters another person’s premises without permission. This includes entering private property as well as public property that is fenced off or clearly designated not to be entered.
However, you can’t file charges for trespassing against anyone who just happens to stumble onto your property.
For a charge of trespassing to be laid, there must be intent, warning or notice, or a crime.
Intent refers to their intent to be on your land. This would eliminate anyone who has stumbled across your sprawling fields while on a hike.
However, if those hikers ignored multiple warning signs that said “private property” or “no trespassing”, then they could be charged, as they were warned. Similarly, if you verbally warned them and they did not leave, they could be charged.
If a person or persons enter your property to commit a crime, such as vandalism, they can be charged with trespassing. This applies even if they haven’t done the damage they intended when they are caught.
For example, if you catch a would-be arsonist with a gas can and other materials, they could be charged with trespassing, even if they have not yet set the fire.
What to Do If Someone Is Trespassing on Your Property
If you are afraid for your life, quickly move to a safer location before calling the police. This might mean locking yourself in a car and taking shelter behind locked doors until it is safe to leave again.
Then, call the police. They will be dispatched to your location to ensure your safety and remove the trespasser if the individual(s) have not already left.
In some cases, you can confront the trespasser(s) to tell them to leave. This is typically safe to do when there was no intent to trespass and the individuals do not look dangerous. For example, if some kids wander onto your property by accident.
Be polite, but firm in telling them that they are on private property and should turn around. Avoid confronting the trespasser in situations that could lead to violence or threaten your safety.
How to Charge Someone With Trespassing on Your Property
If you have evidence that someone has trespassed on your property, it is important to contact an attorney. They will be able to help gather evidence and file the necessary paperwork to charge the individual with trespassing.
It is crucial to act quickly as there are time limits for pressing charges.
Can you call the police for trespassing?
Police will investigate reports of trespassing, but it is up to you whether or not you want to press charges. If you press charges, police can arrest the individual if they are still on your property.
Some trespassing cases do not require the police. For example, if someone accidentally wanders onto your property and leaves when you give them a verbal warning, there is no need to get the police involved.
In situations where someone has intentionally violated your privacy by entering your premises, you should contact the police.
How to Report Trespassing
If someone is trespassing on your property, call the police to have them remove the individual. If the person is not on your property, you can reach out to local law enforcement and provide them with a description of the person and their last known location.
You will need to speak with the police to file a premises liability claim. They will need your recollection of the events, a description of the individual, and any evidence that you have of the crime.
Penalties for Trespassers
There are three types of trespassing: misdemeanor, felony, and aggravated.
A misdemeanor trespassing offense is usually punished by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. This includes incidents where an individual comes on your property, has been warned to leave, but does not. However, they do not cause any physical damage to you or your property.
A felony trespassing charge is more serious and usually punishable by one year or more in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. This charge is laid when a trespasser interferes with your business, your wellbeing, and your safety.
An aggravated trespassing charge can result in a felony charge punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. This is laid when someone has been previously convicted for trespassing and returns knowingly to the premises. It also involves assault or threats of assault, often repeatedly.
Call a Premises Liability Lawyer
If someone has trespassed on your property, it is important to take legal action. This can be a complex process, and it is best to have an experienced lawyer helping you.
The lawyers at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath have years of experience in premises liability law. We can help you gather evidence and file the necessary paperwork to charge the trespasser with trespassing.
Call (561) 867-4117 today for a free consultation.