What is the Penalty for Trespassing on Federal Property in Utah?

Trespassing on federal property can send you to jail.  Utah has laws against trespassing that can lead to incarceration for entering or remaining on property you do not have permission to be on – and these laws can also send you to jail for flying a drone somewhere it isn’t supposed to be.  The federal government also has its own laws that govern trespassing on military bases, national forests, national parks, post offices, courthouses, and other properties and buildings owned by the U.S. Government.  Overson Law’s lawyers for trespassing on federal property in Utah explain more about these potential penalties.

Utah State Crimes for Trespassing

The State of Utah makes it illegal to trespass under Utah Code § 76-6-206.  This trespassing offense makes it illegal to enter into a building or other piece of property without permission to be there.  In addition, it makes it illegal to trespass by flying a drone over the property.  Burglary charges may also be available under some situations since they do not always deal with theft.

Trespassing laws in Utah require that you entered the property with your whole body or flew the entire drone into the area to have it considered trespassing.  This means that putting one foot into the area or waving your arm over the property should not be charged as trespassing – though it could be attempted trespassing.

To convict you of trespassing, the government must also prove that there is a mental element to the crime.  This is usually supplied by looking at whether or not you knew it was illegal to enter the area.  If you knowingly trespassed, or if you entered the area despite posted signs or actual communication that it would be trespassing, you can be convicted of trespassing.  Alternatively, if you entered the property with the intent to annoy the people there or commit another crime once you got inside, it is also trespassing.  This means that entering with the intent of stalking someone or committing vandalism is considered trespassing.

The charges for burglary in Utah come under similar circumstances.  If you enter an area you do not have permission to be in with the intent to commit a felony inside, you could be charged with burglary.  This is a more serious offense than trespassing.

Federal Trespassing Laws for Federal Property

The U.S. Government has its own laws that apply nationally to prevent and punish trespassing.  For these laws to apply, the property has to be federal property – whether that be a post office, federal courthouse, military base, or another building owned by the U.S. Government.

Trespassing on a military base is punished under 18 U.S.C. § 1382 while other trespassing on foreign property could be punished under other statutes.  Burglary is also covered under other federal statutes, again making it illegal to enter the property with the intent to commit a felony once inside.

Penalties for Trespassing on Foreign Lands and Buildings

If you are charged under the Utah statute for trespassing or burglary, the penalties could lead to potentially long prison sentences.  Trespassing has two different potential gradings depending on whether or not the property you trespassed upon was a “dwelling,” i.e., a place where people live and stay overnight.  If it was a dwelling, the crime is a class A misdemeanor with a potential of up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500.  If it was not a dwelling, it is a class B misdemeanor with a potential of up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Burglary is a more serious crime.  This is a second degree felony in the case of entering a dwelling with 1-15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.  If the place was not a dwelling, it is a third degree felony carrying 0-5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

The federal charges vary in seriousness.  Different trespassing statutes are charged under various statutes.  The crime of trespassing on a military base, in particular, can lead to up to 6 months in prison and a fine if you violate the statute.  Other laws may have higher or lower penalties.

In the case of burglary, whether it be under the state statute or the federal statute, there must be an intent to commit another crime.  If you trespass and actually commit the crime, you can typically be charged independently for the other crimes you commit after the burglary.  Most commonly, burglary is associated with theft, but burglary could also be charged if you enter property with the intent to murder someone, commit arson, damage property, or commit other serious crimes.

If you did not commit the additional crimes, you could still be charged with attempt.  This often carries the same penalties as if the crime was completed and can still lead to increased jail time.  However, for attempt charges to stick, the government typically must prove that you took a substantial step toward committing the crime.  Police may be able to convict you of burglary by proving your intent to commit a crime after trespassing, but attempted theft or attempted arson might be harder to prove.  This is especially true if you were stopped immediately after trespassing and did not get a chance to take a substantial step toward committing the other crime.

Call Our Salt Lake City Lawyer for Trespassing on Federal Property for a Free Consultation

If you were arrested for trespassing on federal property in Utah, contact our attorneys today. The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Overson Law represent people charged with state crimes in Utah as well as federal crimes.  For a free legal consultation on your case, contact our attorneys today at (801) 758-2287.