Trespassing

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Columbia Trespassing Attorney

Trespassing is a serious offense, with severe penalties for those who are convicted for such an offense. Under the law, a property owner or tenant is required to give you notice of trespassing before you can be arrested.

If you or a family member have been accused of trespassing, you need a Columbia, South Carolina, trespassing attorney who can fight these charges against you.

South Carolina Trespassing Law

South Carolina Code §16-11-620 defines trespassing as a person entering into a “dwelling house, place of business, or premises of another person after having been warned not to do so…” The illegal entry must be done without good reason or legal cause.

Under the law, trespassing is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 maximum fine. Although the penalties are less severe than a felony offense, if you are found guilty, you will have a criminal record. This means that your conviction will show up on a background check, making it nearly impossible to secure employment or housing in the future.

Property Watch Program

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) assists landowners in spotting those trespassing onto their land, specifically targeting hunters. Under the Title 16 law, violators will be fined $100 and imprisoned for 30 days. This applies to anyone who enters another’s land after receiving a notice against trespassing.

The law requires that landowners post “No trespassing” signs in at least four visible places, although it is recommended that signs are posted every 100 feet. This specific law seeks to reduce unlawful mud riding, dog catching, horseback riding, swimming, and other similar activities.

Defenses

If you are facing trespassing allegations, a few defenses may be available to you:

The Trespass Was Accidental

To be found guilty of trespassing, you must intentionally or knowingly enter another person’s property without the owner’s consent. If you did not realize that you were trespassing, you lack the intent required for a conviction.

If the property owner or tenant gave you permission to enter the property, then you were not trespassing. This can occur if the homeowner gave you permission to be on the premises, but a neighbor called the police, assuming that you were trespassing. Your charges will likely be dropped once the homeowner can be reached or once you prove that you had permission to be there.

Public Necessity

If you had to enter another person’s property for the public good, then this is a complete defense against a trespassing charge. For instance, if you break into a neighbor’s shed to borrow their water-hose to put out a nearby fire, you are protecting yourself and others.

Contact our Columbia SC Trespassing Defense Attorneys Today

Even though a trespassing accusation may be unfounded, you still need experienced representation. At the Law Office of Sharpe & Leventis, we understand that you are going through a stressful time. While the penalties for a conviction are considered less severe, we take every case seriously. Our legal team will advocate on your behalf to get your charges dropped or reduced. If you are ready to schedule a consultation, contact the office by calling 803-830-6296 or by filling out our online contact form.