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Trespass Charges in Tampa, FL

Florida law provides for harsh penalties and punishments for crimes against property including criminal trespass offenses. Trespass can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on where the trespass occurred and whether the person accused was in possession of a firearm or another type of dangerous weapon at the time of the offense.

Florida law distinguishes between trespass offenses that occur in a structure or conveyance under Florida Statute Section 810.08 and trespass offenses on open land under Florida Statute Section 810.09.

Attorney for Trespass in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with trespass in Tampa, Hillsborough County, or one of the surrounding counties in the greater Tampa Bay area then contact a criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and possible defenses that might apply.

Call (813) 250-0500.


Penalties for Trespass to a Structure of Conveyance in Florida

Florida Statute Section 810.08 provides that:

(1) Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance.

Subsection 2 of Florida Statute Section 810.08 sets out the penalties for trespass under Florida law. Trespass in a structure or conveyance is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

The penalties for trespassed are enhanced to a first-degree misdemeanor if there is a “human being in the structure or conveyance at the time the offender trespassed, attempted to trespass, or was in the structure or conveyance.”

The first-degree misdemeanor version of trespass is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Penalties for Trespass to Property Other than a Structure or Conveyance

Florida Statute Section 810.09 prohibits trespass on property other than structure or conveyance. The statute provides that “a person who commits the offense of trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance when, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, the person willfully enters upon or remains in any property other than a structure or conveyance:

  1. As to which notice against entering or remaining is given, either by actual communication to the offender or by posting, fencing, or cultivation as described in s. 810.011; or
  2. If the property is the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling and the offender enters or remains with the intent to commit an offense thereon, other than the offense of trespass.

The term “unenclosed curtilage” is defined to mean “the unenclosed land or grounds, and any outbuildings, that are directly and intimately adjacent to and connected with the dwelling and necessary, convenient, and habitually used in connection with that dwelling.”

In most cases, trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance is charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The offense can be charged as a third-degree felony if the offender is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense of trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance.

Trespassing with a firearm is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a fine not to exceed $5,000.


Trespass on a Construction Site in Florida

The offense can also be charged as a third-degree felony if the property trespassed is a construction site that is:

  1. Greater than 1 acre in area and is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED CONSTRUCTION SITE, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”; or
  2. One acre or less in area and is identified as such with a sign that appears prominently, in letters of not less than 2 inches in height, and reads in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED CONSTRUCTION SITE, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.” The sign shall be placed at the location on the property where the permits for construction are located. For construction sites of 1 acre or less as provided in this subparagraph, it shall not be necessary to give notice by posting as defined in s. 810.011(5).

Trespass on Commercial Property and Designated Sites in Florida

The trespass can be charged as a third-degree felony if the property trespassed upon is an agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility that is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS MANUFACTURING FACILITY, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”

The trespass can be charged as a third-degree felony if the property trespassed upon is a domestic violence center certified under s. 39.905 which is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED RESTRICTED SITE AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”

The trespass can be charged as a third degree felony if the property trespassed upon is an agricultural site for testing or research purposes that is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED AGRICULTURAL SITE FOR TESTING OR RESEARCH PURPOSES, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”

The trespass can be charged as a third-degree felony if the property trespassed upon is commercial horticulture property and the property is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS DESIGNATED COMMERCIAL PROPERTY FOR HORTICULTURE PRODUCTS, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”


Trespass by Firing a Projectile Across Private Land

Trespass can also be charged as a felony if the person is hunting and “knowingly propels or causes to be propelled any potentially lethal projectile over or across private land without authorization.”

Florida’s trespass statute defines the term “potentially lethal projectile” to include any projectile launched from any firearm, bow, crossbow, or similar tensile device. Florida’s trespass statute related to firing a bullet or other projectile across private property without authorization does not apply to any governmental agent or employee acting within the scope of his or her official duties.


Trespass at an Airport Crimes in Florida

The crime of “Trespass at an Airport” is considered a Florida Misdemeanor Exception to the arrest warrant requirement because an officer can make an arrest for this misdemeanor offense based on probable cause even if it was not committed in the presence of the officer.

Many of these types of crimes for trespass involve an arrest by an officer with the Tampa International Airport Police Department.

Under F. S. Section 901.15(14), the crime of trespass at an airport occurs when a trespass occurred in a secure area of an airport when signs are posted in a conspicuous area of airport which notifies the public that unauthorized entry into such areas constitutes a trespass and specify the methods for gaining authorized access to such areas. Read more about accusations for crimes at the Tampa International Airport.

House Bill 523 passed the Florida House and Senate in March of 2018. The bill was approved by the Governor on April 6, 2018, ch. 2018-151 L.O.F., and became effective on October 1, 2018.

The bill increases the criminal penalties from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony where an offender trespasses on the operational area of an airport with the intent to:

  • Injure another person;
  • Damage property; or
  • Impede the operation or use of an aircraft, runway, taxiway, ramp or apron area.

Under the new law, the term “operational area of an airport” is defined to include any portion of an airport to which access by the public is prohibited by fences or appropriate signs and includes runways, taxiways, ramps, apron areas, aircraft parking and storage areas, fuel storage areas, maintenances areas, and any other area of an airport used or intended to be used for landing, takeoff, or surface maneuvering of aircraft.

The law requires that a sign with language similar to the following be posted in order for a trespasser to be prosecuted: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED OPERATIONAL AREA OF AN AIRPORT AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”

Federal law at 49 U.S.C. s. 46314(a) (2015), prohibits any person from knowingly and willfully entering any aircraft or airport area in violation of specified security requirements with a penalty of fines and imprisonment not more than one year.

An offender who acts with the intent to evade security procedures or with the intent to commit a felony in the aircraft or airport area may face up to twenty years in federal prison under 49 U.S.C. s. 46314(b)(2) (2015).


Citizen’s Arrest Provision of Florida’s Trespass Statute

Florida’s trespass statute provides that “any owner or person authorized by the owner may, for prosecution purposes, take into custody and detain, in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable length of time, any person when he or she reasonably believes that a violation of this paragraph has been or is being committed, and he or she reasonably believes that the person to be taken into custody and detained has committed or is committing such violation.

In the event a person is taken into custody, a law enforcement officer shall be called as soon as is practicable after the person has been taken into custody. The taking into custody and detention by such person, if done in compliance with the requirements of this paragraph, shall not render such person criminally or civilly liable for false arrest, false imprisonment, or unlawful detention.”

Florida’s trespass statute defines the term “person authorized” to mean any “owner or lessee, or his or her agent, or any law enforcement officer whose department has received written authorization from the owner or lessee, or his or her agent, to communicate an order to depart the property in the case of a threat to public safety or welfare.”


Penalties for Armed Trespass in Florida

The penalties for trespass are enhanced to a felony if the “offender is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon, or arms himself or herself with such while in the structure or conveyance.”

The felony version of armed trespass in a structure or conveyance is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison and a $500 fine.

Other types of criminal offenses related to armed trespass can including improper exhibition of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm or trespass by a projectile.


Finding an Attorney for Trespass Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for either a misdemeanor or felony trespass offense then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

We represent clients on trespass and other property crimes at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL. Our attorneys also fight charges for trespass throughout Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Dade City and New Port Richey in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, and Lakeland and Bartow in Polk County, Florida.

Whether your trespass charge involves an allegation of trespass in a structure or conveyance or on open lands, call us to discuss the case today. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County.

Call (813) 250-0500.


This article was last updated on Friday, March 15, 2019.

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