In Texas, there are clear and distinct penalties for individuals who criminally trespass. There are four trespassing types: Class A, B and C misdemeanors, and the most severe, felony trespassing. Depending on the type of trespassing and on the details of the case, trespassers may face penalties of several hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars, plus jail or prison time if found guilty of a felony.
Class C Trespassing
The lowest criminal trespassing offense is Class C misdemeanor trespassing. This occurs when an individual trespasses on a property when he or she had notice that entering was prohibited or was told to leave but refused to do so. According to the Texas Penal Code, entry is defined as the entering of the entire body. A class C misdemeanor trespassing has no malice or intent to cause harm, and it deals only with land trespassing. In Texas, these offenses normally occur by hunters, especially when retrieving an injured or dead animal from another’s property. The penalty of a Class C misdemeanor is only punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
Class B Trespassing
A Class B misdemeanor trespassing occurs when an individual trespasses in a personal residence or shelter site such as a homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter. The trespasser had to know that trespassing was forbidden. In this case, the penalties increase because the charge increases. According to the Texas Penal Code, a person convicted of a Class B misdemeanor can face up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. The exact imprisonment time and fine is up to the judge to determine. Individuals without any criminal history can receive a reduced sentence or penalty.
Class A Trespassing
A Class A misdemeanor trespassing offense occurs when an individual enters a residence, shelter site or Superfund Site (any place listed on the National Priorities List) with a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon can range from a baseball bat, knife or a gun. Other objects can be viewed as a deadly weapon, such as a blunt object; however, this is up to the prosecutor to determine that fact. The penalty for this offense is a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence not to exceed a year.
Felony trespassing occurs when an individual enters a habitation with intent to commit another felony such as burglary, murder or assault. The penalties for this crime depends on the other felonies committed or attempted. Prosecutors also have say in what the penalties are depending on the exact charge they intend to prosecute. The judge determines the penalty if the defendant is found guilty. Penalties may range from six months to five years plus fines up to $10,000.