Trespassing Charges in Lexington
The Criminal Penalties for Trespassing in South Carolina
South Carolina's trespassing law is a criminal statute. It is codified in S.C. Code §16-11-620. Although it is a misdemeanor, prosecuted typically in the magistrate or municipal court, it carries harsh penalties for a conviction. First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 or sentenced to up to 30 days in the county jail. In addition to the fine and jail sentence you could receive if convicted you will also face having a criminal record that could follow you for the rest of your life. In South Carolina employers are allowed to either not hire you or terminate existing employment on the basis of a criminal conviction such as for trespassing.
Trespass is the unauthorized entry onto the land or building of another. The law applies to private residences, commercial buildings and land. The trespass statute makes it unlawful to enter onto the property without permission of the owner or person in possession of the property after either being warned not to enter or being asked to leave. Generally, it is not against our criminal law to be on someone else's property without permission. It only becomes a criminal act when they have posted signs, asked you to leave or previously told you (either orally or in writing) not to come on the property.
Trespass charges can also be based on situations where someone has climbed over a fence. Although trespass charges are oftentimes accompanied by other charges, such as burglary or larceny, there is no requirement that the defendant have an ultimate criminal objective in order to achieve a conviction for this property crime. If you or someone you love has recently been accused of committing such an offense in South Carolina, you should waste no time in consulting with a Lexington criminal defense attorney from our firm.
You Can Also Be Sued for Trespassing
Defendants should also keep in mind that although the criminal statute for trespassing carries limited fines, facts sufficient to constitute an arrest or criminal conviction will also support a civil action for trespass. Civil cases are brought in the form of a private lawsuit, and do not involve the police or criminal court. Although restitution is generally limited in criminal cases to no more than $5,000 (plus the fine and / or jail sentence), there is no cap on what a civil court could award in damages. Contact our office for high-quality legal assistance for your trespassing charges in Lexington. We also work with clients in Columbia, South Carolina and other parts of the state.