The crime of trespassing can be confusing to many laypersons, as trespassing can be both a civil infraction resulting in a landowner filing a civil suit or a criminal charge. Furthermore, there are different criminal trespassing laws enforced at the local, state, and federal and are often based on the property on which the trespassing occurred. Thus, while cutting through a friendly neighbor’s yard in a cul-de-sac to run an errand may not be a crime, trespassing on another’s land where there are posted signs is a crime, and trespassing on a military base can result in significant criminal penalties such as six months in federal prison. And even where the criminal penalty may seem manageable, a criminal record can follow you around and affect your career and reputation for years.
Many alleged trespassings are the result of simple misunderstandings, however, but it is important to work with a criminal attorney to make things right. If you have been arrested for or are under investigation for trespassing, it is imperative that you present the best defense possible to avoid a criminal record, fines, and jail time. Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney J. Patrick Quillian is a former prosecutor with the skills and experience to defend you or a family member from trespassing charges and take all necessary steps to defend the reputation and freedom of those involved.
Under Oklahoma state law, it is criminal trespassing to enter the “garden, yard, pasture or field of another” when you have been expressly forbidden from doing so or where there are signs prohibiting your entrance. In some situations – such as with certain state-owned buildings – it is a crime even where no signs have been posted. It is also a crime to enter certain federal lands such as military bases or national parks without permission or to stay on the land beyond the time in which the land is open.
Depending on a person’s intent in entering or remaining on the land, and any damage that may have occurred on the land, penalties can range up to six months in prison. Note also that entering a building on the property may also result in additional breaking-and-entering and/or burglary charges.
Simply trying to explain authorities why you thought you had a legal reason to be on the property may only work against your interests as ignorance of the law is rarely a defense and you may simply end up incriminating yourself. By working with an attorney knowledgeable in state, local, and federal trespassing laws, and who can take the necessary steps to prevent you from giving up your constitutional rights, you can work towards a dismissal of charges or reduction in penalties. If you have any reason to believe you are under suspicion for trespassing charges, contact our experienced criminal defense team first before speaking with authorities.
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney who relies on his years of experience in prosecuting cases to provide the best possible defense for all defendants being investigated or charged with trespassing. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.