Criminal trespassing makes for interesting law. There are several degrees of trespassing that can be perpetrated, and the penalties increase for a variety of reasons, such as the intent of the person who trespassed.
A man in Russell County was arrested for trespassing and theft. While he has only been charged with first-degree criminal trespass, the case highlights how simply trespassing is one thing, but doing so to commit a crime is another.
This case also shows just how complicated trespassing laws can be in Colorado, plus why it’s prudent to be careful when entering someone else’s property.
Here’s what you need to know about criminal trespass in Colorado, along with the penalties that can be faced if you do so with the specific intent to commit a crime.
Criminal Trespass in Colorado
Criminal trespass in Colorado is defined as several different degrees of an act rather than a single act. They are:
Third Degree Criminal Trespass
When you unlawfully enter or stay on the premises of another, you commit third-degree criminal trespass. This is considered a Class 1 petty offense or, if it takes place on agricultural land, a Class 3 misdemeanor. If trespass occurs on agricultural land with intent to commit another crime, then it’s a Class 5 felony.
The penalties for this level of trespass include:
- For a Class 1 petty offense: six months in jail and as much as $500 in fines
- For a Class 3 misdemeanor: six months behind bars with a fine of up to $50
- For a Class 5 felony: up to three years in prison with fines of as much as $100,000
Second Degree Criminal Trespass
Second-degree criminal trespass occurs when someone enters unlawfully or remains on fenced premises meant to keep people out. It can also be charged if someone unlawfully and knowingly enters or remains in the common areas of a condo, apartment complex, motel, motor vehicle, or hotel.
This can be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor in the least serious cases or as a Class 2 misdemeanor if agricultural land is involved. It can be a Class 4 felony if agricultural land is involved and the intent to commit a felony is present.
The penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor is as many as 180 days in jail and fines up to $50. For a Class 2 misdemeanor, the defendant can face up to 12 months in prison and be responsible to pay fines of up to $1,000. Class 4 felonies are punishable by as many as six years in prison and fines for as much as $500,000.
First Degree Criminal Trespass
This is perpetrated when someone unlawfully and knowingly enters a dwelling or remains in the dwelling of someone else. It applies when someone enters a motor vehicle with the intent to commit a crime, too.
What differentiates criminal trespass from burglary is the severity of the crime intended. In general, criminal trespass involves crimes that aren’t as serious, such as vandalism.
This is a Class 5 felony that can be punished by as many as four years in prison and fines of as much as $100,000.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.