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When is trespassing considered a felony?

Posted on August 13, 2020

Trespassing can be a serious offense. Aside from violating the sanctity of property belonging to someone else, a trespasser may want to commit other crimes after entering a home or building. In such cases, a Colorado prosecutor may seek a trespassing charge that rises to the level of a felony.

According to FindLaw, the circumstances of a person trespassing will dictate how severely the state of Colorado will charge a trespasser. There are two kinds of situations that usually result in a felony trespass charge.

Trespassing with intent to commit other crimes

Colorado law will permit a prosecutor to levy a Class 5 felony trespassing charge if enough evidence exists that a trespasser intended to commit a crime there. This trespassing charge includes instances where a person breaks into a home or an automobile. Generally, these crimes are non-burglary crimes since burglary exists as its own crime, and may include such offenses as vandalism.

Trespassing on agricultural land

Trespassing may also rise to a felony level if someone enters agricultural land without permission. To take one scenario, someone may be guilty of a second degree criminal trespass if an individual enters an enclosed property or the common area of a hotel or a condominium and refuses to leave. This may result in a class 3 misdemeanor.

However, things may change if someone transgresses agricultural land. A prosecutor could charge the trespasser with a class 2 misdemeanor. If the trespasser intends to commit a felony on the land, a prosecutor can increase the charge to a class 4 felony. If someone is guilty of a third degree criminal trespass and tries to commit a felony on agricultural property, a prosecutor may go for a class 5 felony charge.

Differences between misdemeanor and felony charges

It matters a lot if a prosecutor charges you with either a misdemeanor or a felony for trespassing. If a prosecutor levies a class 5 felony charge, you could spend anywhere from one to three years in prison and have to pay as high as $100,000 in fines. However, if convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor, you would only have to spend six months in jail at the most and pay a fine of $50. So the intensity of the charge is bound to be an important part of your case if a prosecutor charges you with trespassing.