Armed Trespassing Charges in Florida
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In general terms, a Trespass occurs whenever an individual willfully enters or remains on a property without being authorized, licensed, or invited – or, once on the property legally, the defendant is given notice to leave by an authorized person. Usually, a trespass is a misdemeanor.
However, if the individual becomes armed with either a firearm or dangerous weapon (before or while the trespass is allegedly occurring), trespassing becomes a felony crime with much more serious consequences. This happens all the time in Florida when people hunt or shoot guns on someone else’s property. Don’t get pushed around by the system. Contact an experienced Lakeland defense lawyer who will stand up for your legal rights. Get Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law.
How armed trespassing happens
Again, the definition of armed trespassing is having a firearm or other dangerous weapon at any point while the trespass is occurring. This means that if the individual did not have a firearm or dangerous weapon when they first went onto the property, but picked up a firearm or was given a gun or dangerous weapon while on the property, the crime is elevated to a felony offense.
This crime often occurs when a citizen wants to go hunting or practice shooting in a wide-open area with not many people around so that it is safe to practice firing a gun.
There are many different types of trespass, including trespass on a dwelling or home, structure or conveyance, construction site, and school grounds. Each of these circumstances carries different legal responsibilities and penalties.
What’s the penalty for armed trespassing in Florida?
Armed trespassing can be charged as a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty is five years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Beyond those consequences, having a felony conviction on your record can affect your employment, education, civil rights, and future. Firearm and weapon charges are considered very serious by prosecutors, judges, schools, and employers. In particular, an armed trespassing conviction can affect your right to own a gun.
There are many defenses to Armed Trespass including:
- Reasonable mistake – The trespass must be willful, so “it was a reasonable mistake” is a defense! Courts measure willfulness by what the arrested person was thinking/intent proved by objective facts.
- Consent – Were you given permission to enter onto the property? Then you have a defense. Consent can come in many forms: express, implied, and constructive.
- Necessity – Did you need to use the property for a justifiable purpose?
- Notice – Was the posting on the property legally sufficient under Florida law to put the individual on notice that they were trespassing?
- Authorization – Was the person who gave the notice to leave authorized to do so and did that person or police officer have the authority to give the order to vacate under Florida criminal law?
- Other defenses may be available depending on the specific facts of your case.
Each case is different, based upon the individual facts and circumstances. Do not let an armed trespassing charge or conviction affect your employment, education, or future. Call now to set up your free consultation so I can answer any questions you may have regarding your criminal case.