Criminal trespass charges on Tybee Island
Tybee Island truly is a slice of heaven on earth. People come from far and wide to enjoy our pristine beaches, golden sunshine and plethora of adventurous activities. And of course, when you’re on vacation you might partake in other, more inebriated activities. Drinking, as long as you’re of age, isn’t a crime in Georgia, but it might lead to doing other “activities” that can be misconstrued as a crime.
Too often people wake up from their night of fun with a criminal trespassing charge. What does criminal trespass even mean? Unfortunately, it’s not as black and white as you might hope; it covers a broad spectrum of circumstances and situations.
I encourage you to contact me right away if this has happened to you, or if a different scenario has led to criminal trespassing charges. Why? Because after my years of serving as a prosecutor, I know how they operate: they make their cases swiftly and with dramatic force, making you feel like you don’t stand a chance. Because you might not be aware of your rights as a citizen, they’ll do their best to exploit you by assuring you that you don’t have any rights. You need a solid, experienced defense attorney by your side in this situation. Never buy into the lie that “fighting your case” will land you in a worse sentence than just pleaded guilty. Too often people don’t stop to consider what the consequences of a “guilty” plea will mean for their future… If you’re going to walk away with a criminal record regardless, why not put up your best defense and fight to protect your future?
Prosecutors might even make the plea bargain sound good, but if you don’t read (and understand!) the fine print, you might end up much worse off than you originally anticipated. The goal of the prosecution isn’t to help you understand your rights, the laws, or the procedures – the goal of the prosecution is to “get their man” for as much time and money as they can. They’re putting “bad guys” behind bars because that’s what they’re paid to do.
As your defense attorney, it’s my job to keep your best interests in mind and work hard to get you the best possible outcome. That means investigating all the “facts” with a fine tooth comb, including the police procedure, the techniques used to gather evidence and interview the arresting officer, and then build the best possible defense for you.
Let’s go back to our example of criminal trespassing charges on Tybee Island. A criminal trespass occurs when you “damage someone else’s property in an amount of $500 or less; or enter upon land, premises or property of someone for an unlawful purpose or without authorization after receiving proper notice.”
The prosecution will be quick to inform you that these charges “will” result in a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison. However, any portion of the penalty can be probated or suspended. Understand that if you are convicted, the sentence you receive will be based on the facts and circumstances of your particular and unique case. That means you need someone who knows the law, knows how the prosecution operates, and can present these facts and argue your case.
“Intention” is huge here. The law states criminal trespassing occurs if someone “intentionally” damages property or enters a premise he or she isn’t authorized. Intent is critical in this application of the law. The prosecution will try and convince you and the judge that the intent was there. My job is to prove that it wasn’t.
Let’s say you wondered onto someone’s private property after a romp on the beach. If the property owner didn’t have clearly marked signs that the property wasn’t welcome to visitors, then it likely wasn’t your intent to trespass.
Georgia law states that criminal trespassing occurs when a person enters the premises of another for an unlawful purpose. If your intent wasn’t unlawful in nature, but perhaps ignorance or naivety, there is no crime. Simply wandering onto someone’s private property doesn’t constitute unlawful intent.
If you need help building your case against a criminal trespassing charge, contact me today at 912-472-4285 for a consultation.