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Texas Trespassing Laws: Are There Degrees of Severity?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Trespassing Laws: Are There Degrees of Severity?

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Trespassing Laws in Texas

Chapter 30 of the Texas Penal Code lists several different offenses involving trespassing. This chapter also contains information about the degrees of severity regarding trespassing offenses. Although simple trespassing can be regarded as a relatively minor misdemeanor offense, the penalty category for trespassing can be increased if certain conditions are met.

Chapter 30 of the Texas Penal Code also contains information about the crime of burglary. Although burglary is related to the crime of trespassing, these are two separate offenses. However, a person who commits a trespassing offense in order to commit a burglary offense may be charged with both crimes.

What Is Trespassing?

According to Texas law, trespassing is defined as the action of entering or remaining on property belonging to another person without consent and:

  • The person knew that unauthorized entry to the property was forbidden


  • The person was told to leave the property but did not leave

These actions can lead to arrest and a charge of criminal trespass. A person who commits these actions can also receive a charge of burglary if they trespassed on the property with the intent to commit a felony, an assault or a theft.

Degrees of Severity and Penalties

The most basic form of trespassing is known as criminal trespass. This charge is usually applied when a unauthorized person trespasses a short distance onto agricultural or residential land without criminal intent. This offense can lead to penalties including:

  • Conviction on a Class C misdemeanor
  • A fine of up to $500

If a person who is trespassing engages in certain activities, the charges may be enhanced. For example, enhanced penalties may be applied if a person is trespassing in:

  • A refinery
  • An RV park
  • A shelter center
  • A gas storage facility
  • A TV station

Essentially, a person who trespasses on valuable or protected property may be subject to extra penalties. A person who commits this offense may face:

  • Conviction on a Class B misdemeanor
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $2000

A person who enters a habitation or any restricted property while carrying a deadly weapon may be sentenced to:

  • A Class A misdemeanor conviction
  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4000

If a person trespasses onto private property or restricted areas with the intent to commit an assault, a theft or felony action, that person may be charged with burglary. That can lead to:

  • Conviction on a Class A misdemeanor charge
  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of up to $4000

However, if a person who is convicted of burglary has a previous burglary conviction, their sentence may be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor with a mandatory term of six months in jail. If they have two previous burglary convictions, they may be charged with a state jail felony. This can lead to:

  • 180 days or up to two years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Legal Defenses

There are several ways that an attorney might try to defend a client charged with trespassing. For example, it is a legitimate defense to prosecution if the defendant who entered the restricted property was an employee of a utility company, a television provider or a government employee in the course of performing their duty.

If a person trespasses on a property while carrying a deadly weapon but that person is a licensed concealed carry permit holder, that may be a defense to charges of carrying a deadly weapon while trespassing.

Additionally, an attorney may be able to argue that a defendant had no criminal intent and did not commit any illegal actions while trespassing. If the attorney can show that “No Trespassing” signs were not clearly posted, the situation might not meet the requirements for a criminal charge to be valid. If any of these strategies are successful, the court might drop the charges or offer a plea bargain to the defendant for a less serious charge.

If you have been arrested for trespassing, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros. We can help protect your rights and preserve your freedom. Call 832-752-5972 or email today for a free, confidential consultation.

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