Criminal Trespass O.C.G.A. 16-7-21
Georgia Prosecutors must Prove One of Four Elements to Convict You of Criminal Trespass
Maybe you were fired and returned to your former job because you left something behind. Your roommate or friend may have accused you of damaging their cell phone and called the police. Maybe you were standing somewhere and accused of violating the Georgia Criminal Trespass statute O.C.G.A. 16-7-21.
Whatever the reason you were charged with criminal trespass, there is a lot you need to know about the charge to clear your name.
Criminal Trespass in Atlanta Georgia is a Misdemeanor Charge
According to the Georgia statute, you can be charged if you intentionally damage anyone’s property without their permission. This means you break, destroy or make it unusable.
The value of the property damaged must be less than $500. It will not be a misdemeanor if the amount of property damage is higher than $500. You can also be charged with criminal trespass if you knowingly and maliciously interfere with another person’s property. This charge can occur if you allegedly take or hide the property to prevent the owner from having it.
You can also be charged if you allegedly mess with a person’s use of their own property. This is similar to hiding or taking the property. The only difference is you are accused of trying to prevent the true owner from using their property. For example, you may be accused of hiding a sibling’s cell phone to stop them from using it.
Prosecutors must Prove One Element of Criminal Trespass in Atlanta Georgia to Try to Convict You of the Crime
In Atlanta Georgia, you may be charged with criminal trespass under the following four situations:
- You are accused of damaging someone’s property valued under $500
- You entered on someone’s land or property to do something illegally
- You entered an individual’s property or land after being told you were not allowed on the property or land. This means you were allegedly given notice that you were not allowed to be on the property. The notice must be from the rightful owner of the property, rightful occupant or an authorized representative of the property owner.
You were initially allowed on the property, but you remained on the individual’s property or land after being told to leave. This charge often happens during an argument. Prior to the argument, you had permission to be in the apartment. However, during or after an argument with your friend, you were told to get out of their apartment. If you do not leave and the police are called, you can be charged with criminal trespass.
The property can be a house or an apartment. It may also be one of the following:
A Criminal Trespass Conviction in Atlanta Georgia May include Jail Time
According to Georgia law, anyone convicted of criminal trespass faces a misdemeanor punishment. The punishment is a maximum of 12 months in county jail. You may have to pay a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000.
You do not have to violate all three of the elements listed. Instead, you only have to violate one element. The part of the common law definition requires wrongful interference on another person’s real property or personal property. So you can allegedly violate one of the elements to be charged with criminal trespass.
The law assumes you will go up on someone’s land or take the property to do something else. For instance, you may allegedly go on your neighbor’s property to break a window, go into their property and take back something they borrowed from you.
You can also be arrested for trespassing on a government’s property and deface, mutilate or defile any type of property belonging to the government like:
Grave, memorial or memorial of deceased military personnel
Plaque, marker, memorial or monument honoring military service
Any military property belonging to the United States, Georgia or any other state
The Common Defenses that You have to Defend Yourself from in an Atlanta Georgia Trespass Charge
Common defenses for criminal trespass generally includes casting doubt on whether you actually violated the element of the crime. You have to challenge whether you went onto another person’s property without permission. You have to challenge whether you really did not leave the property when you were told to do so.
You must also question whether you actually took a person’s property and damaged it. If they show the alleged damage, you have to challenge whether the damage was done by you and the amount was actually the true amount.
The purpose of challenging the evidence is to cast doubt on whether you actually committed the crime. This undermines the criminal trespass charge and that is one step toward getting your case dropped or reduced.
If you know you did not commit the crime, there are other defenses you can use. These defenses include things like having an alibi and pleading innocent. An alibi involving showing you were somewhere else at the time you were allegedly on the victim’s property or destroying their property. Actual innocence involves showing that you did not commit the crime. You may have been at the crime scene, but you did not step on their property. If you are accused of destroying property, you have to show that you did not tamper, break or damage any property belonging to the alleged victim.
Contact Georgia Yeargan & Kert, LLC regarding Your Atlanta Georgia Criminal Trespass Charge
Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor charge, but you cannot take the charge lightly. Proving you are innocent of the crime starts with contacting us about your free case evaluation. Based on the facts of the case, Yeargan & Kert, LLC can come up with a defense to prove your innocence.
For instance, we can show that you did not damage the property in question. We can also show that you were given permission to be on the property and that permission was not rescinded. Our goal is to prove you are innocent or get the charge dropped. Contact Yeargan & Kert, LLC about your charge.