So the owner of business didn’t appreciate the way you questioned how an employee answered your question, and you were told to leave. One problem, you left your wallet at the cash register, and they won’t let you go get it and call the police. The officer gets you your wallet back, and he reads you a warning that you will be arrested if you come back to the store. No problem you say, and you leave.
One problem, your cell phone must’ve fell out of your pocket and you think it’s in the store. You walk back to the entrance of the store, the owner demands you leave, you never get inside, and the officer hears the commotion and comes back and arrests you for Trespass after Warning.
This is your first ever arrest, and the officer convinces you that you did break the law since you did come back. You didn’t, and the Tampa Criminal Trespass Attorneys at Taracks & Associates know how to prove it.
Fla. Stat. § 810.08 governs what is and what is not a trespass in a building, and states the following:
- Who enters without invitation, is told to leave by the owner or representative (often a police officer), commits a 2⁰M that is punishable by up to 60 days in the County Jail,
- If there is someone inside the building, then it is a 1⁰ Misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 1 year in the County Jail.
- If the person who is trespassing is carrying a firearm or other dangerous weapon, it is considered an Armed Trespass that is a 3⁰ Felony punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison.
One of the biggest issues in these charges is what actually is a building or structure. Particularly is someone is removed from a bar, and comes back looking for their friends. It is not uncommon for a security guard (bouncer) to hold them at the sidewalk outside of the front door for the police to come and arrest them. When this happens, there can be 2 strong avenues of defense.
The first avenue of a defense to these facts is that the sidewalk is not part of the building. Under Florida Law, a structure includes the “curtilage” surrounding the structure. A curtilage is the enclosed space of ground and outbuildings immediately surrounding the structure. More often than not this applies to a surrounding fence or something that encloses the grounds around the building. This does not include decorative flower beds, or a sidewalk that is open to the public.
The second avenue of defense to the Misdemeanor Trespass charges is that the offense has to be seen by the officer. Fla. Stat. § 901.15 (1) requires that for an officer to place a person under arrest for a Misdemeanor such as Trespass in a Structure or Trespass After Warning, the officer, the crime must occur in front of the officer.
So if the bouncer or owner prevents a person from entering and then calls the police, not only is it not a completed crime, but the officer cannot legally make an arrest for Trespass After Warning.
If you have been arrested or charges with a Trespass and think there’s not a defense available, call the Tampa Trespass Criminal Attorneys at Taracks & Associates for a Free Consultation at 813-281-2897.
We will then discuss the facts of your case, and develop a plan to defend you from the charges you face in order to protect your freedom, reputation and livelihood.