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Trespass on School Property

Trespassing is a crime defined by Florida Statute 810.08 (check) as the unauthorized entrance or remainder in a structure or conveyance, or on other property. While the statute includes numerous definitions and penalties for trespass based on the location of the offense, Florida Statutes 810.097 and 810.095 define more specifically the laws regarding trespass on school property. These laws can affect anyone – including a student of the school, or a parent of a student of the school.

How can You Trespass on School Property?

At first glance, it might seem like it is impossible to trespass on school property. Many schools have fences, but leave the gates open throughout the day to allow parents, students, and faculty to enter and exit the property. However, just because a gate is open does not mean that is impossible to trespass. This especially makes sense with schools, which hold young children for eight hours a day or more. Trespassing on school property should be taken seriously, especially considering that being convicted of the offense can amount to a felony in certain situations.

Broadly, trespassing on school property occurs when a person does not have any legitimate business on the campus or possesses authorization or invitation to enter or remain on the property. Trespass can also occur when a student enters the property while suspended or expelled from the school. Unlike other forms of trespass, trespass on school property does not have an element of intent, meaning that even if you are unaware whether or not your actions constitute trespassing, you may be charged with the offense. For instance, if you are a student at DeLand High School or Deltona High School and are currently suspended from the school, attending a football game on campus could result in a trespass charge. While the student may not have intended to trespass or known he or she was doing so, the law does not require that the State prove the element of intent. The statute regarding trespass on school property applies to both public and private institutions, so similarly, if you are a student at Stetson University, walking through the university’s campus if expelled can also lead to trespassing charges.

A trespassing charge can also result from failing to leave a property once asked to do so. Even if your initial entrance to the property was lawful, if asked to leave the property by a principal or someone authorized to give instruction regarding the use of the property, failing to do so can lead to criminal charge. For example, if a parent attempts to pick their child up from school early and becomes irate when told the child cannot leave, the principal of the school may ask the parent to leave. If the parent then refuses to leave, the parent can be charge with trespass. While the original reason for entering the school is legitimate, the refusal to leave turns a lawful action into an unlawful action.

What is at Stake

All crimes carry the threat of punishment. Aside from having a charge exist on your record, a conviction of a trespassing on school property carries penalties from a second degree misdemeanor up to a third degree felony.

  • Second Degree Misdemeanor – If the person does not have legitimate business on the campus or other authorization [s. 810.097(1)(a)] or if the person is a student who is currently suspended or expelled [s. 810. 097(1)(b)]. Punishable by up to 60 days jail, 6 months probation, and a fine of $500.

  • First Degree Misdemeanor – If the person who enters or remains on the campus is instructed to leave by the principal or another authorized agent [s. 810.097(2)]. Punishable by up to 12 months in jail, 12 months probation, and a fine of $1,000.

  • Third Degree Felony – If the person who trespasses is in possession of any weapon or any firearm [s. 810.095(1)]. Even if you legally own and are able to carry the weapon legally in other circumstances, most private and public schools and universities ban the possession of these items on their campus. Punishable by up to 5 years in jail, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $5,000.

If faced with these charges as a juvenile or young adult, the need for an attorney is even greater. Having a criminal charge at a young age can severely impact your future success, including your admission to college or graduate school, eligibility for scholarships, future employment, and higher penalties if you are charged with a crime in the future. Hiring an experienced and dedicated attorney is your first step to preserving your success.

The Thompson Law Approach

With all of our criminal cases, our job is to provide you with the best defense possible. We firmly believe that the earlier we get involved with your case, the more we can do to help you. If you are arrested or given a written notice to appear for a trespass charge, contact Thompson Law as soon as possible for your free case evaluation – in most cases, we can even set your appointment for the same day that you call. When you hire attorney Matt Thompson, you’ll gain all of his experience and knowledge as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. Having worked for the State, he understands how prosecutors make decisions regarding your case, and will work tirelessly to negotiate with the State to ensure that you are put in the best possible position. When being faced with criminal charges, the last thing you want is to feel like you are not involved in your defense. We ensure that you are kept informed of the progress of your case every step of the way. Our client-centered focus ensures that your questions and worries are answered honestly and fully. If you or your child is facing criminal charges for trespassing on school property, call us now to evaluate your case.

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