Trespassing is one of the most common crimes involved in alleged domestic violence situations. Criminal trespass is a Tennessee crime for entering or remaining on another person’s property without their consent. No property damage, theft, or other criminal act is necessary to constitute criminal trespass. Nashville domestic violence lawyer Bernie McEvoy has defended individuals throughout Davidson and Williamson Counties against charges for criminal trespass, stalking, and domestic abuse. He can provide trustworthy guidance and advocate aggressively to help you fight a criminal trespass charge.Tennessee Offenses for Criminal Trespass
Criminal trespass is generally considered a property crime. A person commits criminal trespass in Tennessee if they enter or retain on property, or any portion of the property, without the consent of the owner. Unlike burglary, criminal trespass does not require that the offender intended to commit a felony, theft, or assault upon entering the property. To get a conviction, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly entered or remained on property that belonged to someone else, and that the defendant did not have the owner’s consent to enter or remain on the property. Criminal trespass is a class C misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine. There are defenses to criminal trespass, however, including one provided under the statute. It may be a defense if you reasonably believed the owner gave their consent, you did not interfere with the owner’s use of the property, and you immediately left the property upon request. A knowledgeable domestic violence attorney can assess whether you may be able to invoke this defense in your case.Aggravated Criminal Trespass
When certain factors are present, trespassing may constitute the more serious crime of aggravated criminal trespass. Aggravated criminal trespass generally involves situations where the defendant knows that the property owner does not want them on the premises. Tennessee law provides for two separate counts of aggravated criminal trespass. The first is where the trespasser knows that their presence would cause fear. To convict under this subsection, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following: (1) the defendant entered or remained on the property of another person, (2) that the defendant knew when entering or remaining on the property that they did not have the owner’s consent to do so, and (3) the defendant intended, knew, or was reckless about whether their presence would cause fear for the safety of another.
Aggravated criminal trespass also covers situations where the trespasser caused damage in order to gain entry to the property. A conviction under this subsection requires the state to prove that the defendant knew they did not have the owner’s permission to be on the property, and that the defendant, in order to gain entry to the property, destroyed, cut, or otherwise removed a lock, chain, barrier, gate, fencing, or signage designed to keep trespassers from entering the property. The defense provided under the criminal trespass statute does not extend to aggravated criminal trespass.
Aggravated criminal trespass that is committed in a home, apartment, or other habitation, a hospital building, or on the campus or property of any public or private school is a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties may include up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, and a conviction for this offense is not eligible for expungement. For aggravated criminal trespass upon most other types of property, the offense is a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, the defendant may be sentenced to a maximum 180 days in jail and/or a fine of $500.Retain a Nashville Lawyer to Fight a Domestic Violence Charge
You can fight a criminal trespass charge with assistance from a skilled defense attorney. Bernie McEvoy can assist individuals accused of criminal trespass and domestic violence in Franklin and Nashville, as well as other areas of Davidson and Williamson Counties. To arrange a free consultation, call (615) 255-9595 or (615) 804-8779 on evenings and weekends, or contact us online.