Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

A Guide to Colorado Trespassing Laws

  • Criminal Defense
  • Trespassing

Is Trespassing a Serious Crime?

If you are charged with a trespassing crime in or near the greater Denver area, you will need to be advised and represented by a Denver trespassing attorney who has substantial experience advising and defending those who are accused of trespassing in this state.

Most of us know that trespassing is against the law, although it may not seem like a serious crime. However, convictions for the most serious criminal trespassing charges may be penalized with years in prison and six-figure fines.

The trespassing laws in this state are extensive and may be difficult to understand. If you are a property owner who has questions about your legal rights, or if you are facing a criminal trespassing charge, you should be advised by a Colorado trespassing attorney.

What Constitutes Trespassing in Colorado?

The law in this state establishes three degrees of trespassing:

  1.  First-degree trespassing happens in Colorado when someone illegally and intentionally enters into or stays in a dwelling or enters into a motor vehicle with the intention of perpetrating a crime.
  2. Second-degree trespassing is when someone unlawfully enters someone else’s enclosed or fenced-in premises; unlawfully enters or stays in the common areas of a hotel, motel, condominium, apartment building, or business; or unlawfully enters a motor vehicle.
  3.  Third-degree trespassing happens in Colorado when someone illegally enters into or stays in or upon someone else’s premises.

How is Trespassing Charged? How Are Convictions Penalized?

First-degree trespassing is usually charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction may be penalized with jail and a fine. However, first-degree trespassing in an inhabited or occupied dwelling is a Class 6 felony, punishable upon conviction with time in prison and a costly fine.

Second-degree trespassing may be charged in three different ways:

  1.  Second-degree trespassing is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor when a person intentionally and illegally enters into or remains in someone else’s motor vehicle. A Class 2 misdemeanor conviction in Colorado may be penalized with jail and a fine.
  2.  Second-degree trespassing is charged as a Class 4 felony when it occurs on agricultural land with the intention to commit a felony. Convicted Class 4 felony offenders may be sentenced to a lengthy prison term as well as a fine of up to $500,000.
  3.  In other cases, second-degree trespassing is charged as a petty offense in Colorado and is punishable on conviction with up to ten days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

Third-degree trespassing is also considered a petty offense unless it happened on agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony. In those cases, third-degree trespassing is a Class 5 felony, and a conviction may be penalized with a prison term and a fine of up to $100,000.

How Will a Defense Lawyer Represent You?

Your lawyer may file a motion with the court to have the case dismissed or ask the prosecutor to drop the trespassing charge. If you are guilty as charged, your attorney may negotiate a plea deal that would let you plead guilty to a reduced charge in return for a lesser or alternative sentence.

However, if you are innocent of trespassing, you should insist upon your constitutional right to a trial by jury, and a Denver trespassing lawyer will fight hard on your behalf to win a not guilty verdict. Your attorney may offer one of these defenses to a criminal trespassing charge:

  1. You had the permission of the property’s owner to be on the premises.
  2. You were legally on the premises.
  3. You were not aware that you were on agricultural land.
  4. You were not aware that you were on private property.
  5. You had no intention to perpetrate a crime on the premises.
  6. The premises did not meet the definition of a dwelling.
  7. The property was abandoned.

A necessity defense may be offered if you trespassed to avoid physical injury or harm. If you climbed over someone else’s fence while an aggressive dog was chasing you, for example, your criminal defense lawyer can claim that your act of trespassing was a necessity to avoid an injury.

If your trespassing case goes to trial, your Denver trespassing attorney will explain to the jury exactly what happened and tell the jurors why you should be acquitted of the trespassing charge.

What Else Should You Know About Trespassing in Colorado?

In some situations, trespassing may be considered a crime of domestic violence. If you illegally enter the residence or workplace of a former or current intimate partner, and you are charged with trespassing and domestic violence, you will also be targeted with a restraining order.

If you are charged with trespassing as a crime of domestic violence in this state, you must be advised and represented by an experienced Denver domestic violence defense attorney, and you must get in touch with that attorney’s law offices as quickly as possible.

Defendants who are charged with burglary in Colorado may be offered a plea deal that involves entering a guilty plea to a trespassing charge – a less serious criminal charge than burglary – and then serving the sentence for a trespassing conviction rather than a burglary conviction.

Even if no charges are filed, property owners may seek damages in civil court for trespassing. Anything that prevents an owner from the enjoyment or use of his or her property may be considered trespassing in civil cases – even noises, odors, or smoke from an adjoining property.

Charged With Trespassing? Contact Attorney Daniel M. Murphy

If you are facing any criminal trespassing charge in or near the Denver area, now or in the future, it is imperative to take the matter seriously. Your future and your freedom will be on the line. You must be advised and defended by Denver trespassing lawyer Daniel M. Murphy.

Daniel M. Murphy is a defense attorney who has over twenty-five years of criminal defense experience and a comprehensive understanding of the Colorado legal system. For more than a quarter of a century, he has built a reputation for superlative client service and legal excellence.

Attorney Daniel M. Murphy will develop an effective defense strategy and fight to bring your trespassing case to its best possible resolution. If you are charged with criminal trespassing, promptly contact the Denver law offices of attorney Daniel M. Murphy at 303-996-8998.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.