In Utah, trespassing is a criminal offense. Though many people characterize it as not being that serious, a conviction will result in a criminal record, not to mention fines and potential jail time. This is a relatively common charge but not one that should be taken lightly.
The Utah criminal courts take all criminal violations quite seriously and you should too. This could be the first time you’ve ever been accused of a criminal offense, in which case you are probably frightened about the potential outcome and uncertain of how the situation will play out.
As a criminal defense lawyer, I’ve represented people who were wrongfully accused and those who admitted guilt. I’ve represented people who didn’t realize what they were doing constituted a crime and those who were fully conscious of what their actions could cause. Regardless of the case, a defense attorney is there to represent their client’s best interests throughout the criminal court process.
Trespassing Law and Penalties (UCC 76-6-206)
Under Utah law, trespassing is defined as entering or remaining on the property of another, when such presence is prohibited by a sign or other notice or:
- a. intending to cause annoyance or injury to any person or to damage any property, including the use of graffiti,
- b. intending to commit any crime other than theft or a felony, or
- c. being reckless as to whether his presence will cause fear for the safety of another.
In general, this offense is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $1,000.
The likelihood that you’ll serve six months in jail is quite slim. This is especially true if you have no existing criminal record. The prosecutor and ultimately the judge take many things into consideration when determining your sentence. If this is your first offense, your defense attorney may be able to arrange a favorable plea bargain with the prosecution, avoiding jail time altogether.
It’s common to see cases of trespassing in rural settings, hunters and fisherman are often caught on other people’s property. But this isn’t the only example. If you are asked to leave someone’s home and you refuse, you could be arrested and charged with trespassing. It’s easy to see how a misunderstanding can lead to criminal charges of trespassing.
Depending on the facts of your case, we could argue that your entry onto the property was not unlawful at all or that your conduct didn’t interfere with any operation of the property. Both of these are legal defenses under Utah’s trespassing laws.
In order to know how best to handle your case and the likelihood that you’ll be convicted, a consultation with a local defense lawyer is crucial. Contact my offices today to discuss the specifics of your charges.
There are exceptions to this:
If you commit criminal mischief by damaging or destroying property with the intention of defrauding an insurer, it is classified as a 3rd degree felony, carrying up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
If you intentionally and unlawfully tamper with the property of another and as a result recklessly endanger human life, the crime will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $2,500 in fines, regardless of the value.
If you intentionally and unlawfully tamper with the property of another and as a result recklessly endanger human health of safety, the charge will be a Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to 6 months in jail and fines of $1,000.
If you intentionally and unlawfully tamper with the property of another and as a result recklessly cause or threaten a substantial interruption or impairment of any critical infrastructure, you will face 2nd Degree felony charges, carrying up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Criminal mischief laws can seem complex and confusing. This is especially true if you are the one facing prosecution.
Contact our offices today if you are accused of criminal mischief or another similar criminal offense.