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Colorado Trespassing Attorney--What Is Trespassing?

In the United States, we place great value on our private property and our rights to it without interference. In the state of Colorado, our laws reflect that. If you have been charged with criminal trespassing in Colorado, a conviction can result in serious penalties, including fines and time in jail. Don’t let this happened to you.

In Colorado, criminal trespass is when someone has unlawfully entered or has remained on another person’s property with criminal intent without the other person’s permission. Consequently, criminal trespass, although it is a separate crime, can also be brought with other criminal charges such as theft, burglary, or assault depending on the intention of the perpetrator.

The Classifications of Criminal Trespass Charges

Criminal trespass can be charged in the first, second or third degree in Colorado, depending on the individual’s intentions and the type of property involved.

First Degree Criminal Trespass

18-4-502 C.R.S. states that “A person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass is such person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another or if such person enters any motor vehicle with the intent to commit a crime therein.” A criminal trespass in the first degree is considered a class 5 felony.

A first degree criminal trespass is the most serious of criminal trespass charges because a person’s home or vehicle are places where it is more likely to have others present. In the matter of a vehicle, the vehicle does not have to be locked. Just entering into a home or vehicle with the intention of committing a crime is considered first degree criminal trespass.

Maximum penalties for a first degree criminal trespass conviction is up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Second Degree Criminal Trespass

18-4-503 (1) C.R.S. provides that a criminal trespass in the second degree has taken place when an individual

  • knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains on the premises of another if those premises were enclosed or fenced to keep intruders out; or
  • knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in the common areas of a hotel, motel, condominium, or apartment complex; or
  • knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in someone else’s motor vehicle.

Second degree charges differ from first degree criminal trespassing in that the property does not have to be someone’s private dwelling. As to motor vehicles, second degree charges do not have to prove criminal intent.

A criminal trespass in the second degree may be considered a class-3 misdemeanor unless the property has been previously categorized as agricultural land. In that case, a trespass can be charged as a class-2 misdemeanor. In the case where the property was categorized as agricultural but there was intent to commit a felony, the trespass may be classified as a class-4 felony.

Depending on the level of the offense and intent, criminal trespassing in the second degree can result in fines of between $50 to $1,000 and from three months to one year in jail. Felony penalties for criminal trespassing in the second degree can range from two to six years in prison and fines of between $2,000 to $500,000.

Furthermore, a conviction of second degree trespass involving a vehicle may result in revocation of your driver’s license.

Third Degree Trespass

Criminal trespass charges in the third degree is the least serious charge. This can be charged when someone unlawfully enters or remains on someone else’s property that is not a private dwelling or property that is fenced or otherwise enclosed. Most third-degree criminal trespassing charges are considered class 1 petty offenses. These offenses carry penalties of up to six months in jail and $500 in fines.

Additional Consequences For Criminal Trespassing

Charges for criminal trespassing are often brought with other charges. Charges of robbery, theft, or burglary typically add a trespassing component to the mix. In addition to fines and jail time, someone convicted of criminal trespassing will also be subject to court costs, probation, and a criminal record that may follow them for the rest of their life.

Trespassing and Domestic Violence

Trespassing charges are often brought with charges involving domestic violence. When an individual enters a home or place of work of a former or current partner, they may be charged with criminal trespassing. When this happens as part of a domestic violence incident, the person being charged with trespassing will be arrested and potentially be subject to a restraining order by the court.

Domestic violence is not its own offense. While there is no formal charge of domestic violence, it becomes an enhancement to other charges. Consequently, if someone is charged with criminal trespassing as part of a domestic incident, the domestic violence enhancement will result in additional sentencing considerations. In addition, under Colorado law, the police must make a mandatory arrest and charge the perpetrator.

Defenses to Trespassing Charges

All levels of criminal trespassing charges have the requirement that the defendant had “knowingly and unlawfully” entered on or remained on someone else’s property. Consequently, criminal defense attorneys in Colorado have many defense options for a line of defense.

  • Did the defendant have criminal intentions?
  • Did the property qualify as a private dwelling?
  • Was the defendant’s presence there truly unlawful?
  • Did the defendant have consent to be there?
  • Did the defendant realize they were on private property?
  • Did the defendant realize they were on agricultural property?

Getting Skilled Legal Defense

Depending on the circumstances, which degree of offense you are charged with, and what other charges accompany it, criminal trespassing charges can result in significant fines and jail time. Getting the guidance of an experienced Colorado trespassing attorney is critical when you have been charged with criminal trespassing. The sooner you have skilled legal representation, the more favorable your potential outcome.

Contact the Colorado Springs criminal defense team at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC for a free consultation to discuss your charges and your options!