Simple trespassing may appear to some to be a harmless issue that does not affect anyone. However, trespassing on another’s property, whether the state or the government owns the property, can land you in serious legal trouble. The mere presence of a person in an unauthorized area can be enough to be charged with a crime. If you or a family member was arrested for trespassing on a military base, you should consult with an experienced Utah military base trespassing defense lawyer. Defense lawyer Darwin Overson understands the stress and uncertainty of being charged with a crime, and he is here to work with you. Overson Law, PLLC is here to explain the legal consequences of trespassing on a military base in Utah.
Military Base Trespassing Laws
Trespassing is an offense that occurs when a person enters the property of another without their consent. Criminal laws for trespassing on a military base are covered under Title 18 U.S.C. § 1382. This section covers two scenarios of criminal trespassing at a military installation. Specifically, the statute applies to:
- Military and naval bases
- Coast Guard reservations
- Military posts, forts, arsenals, yards, and stations
If a person is found trespassing on any of the above government properties without authorization and with the intention of committing a crime on the property, they will be charged with federal trespassing. For example, if a defendant illegally enters a naval base with the intention to assault another person, they will be charged with this offense and likely other offenses. However, there are other circumstances where a person could be charged with federal trespassing. For example, ignoring trespassing signs before entering government property is also a criminal offense.
There are two types of federal trespassing covered under this statute. If a defendant enters a military base with the intention to commit a crime, this is considered a specific intent crime. Specific intent crimes require a defendant to possess a certain mental state when committing a crime in order to satisfy the elements of the crime. For example, a person that enters a military base with no intent to commit a crime cannot be charged with the specific intent portion of this statute.
Note, however, this federal statute covers trespassing that does not require specific intent. If a defendant is discovered on a military base after being previously removed from the base and informed not to return, they can be charged with federal trespassing. This section of the statute only requires that the defendant merely enters the federal property they were dismissed from on a previous occasion.
Additionally, a defendant can also be charged with state crimes for trespassing if they trespass on a military installation on land owned by the State of Utah. Utah Code § 76-6-206 covers trespassing that occurs on state lands. Specifically, this law requires a person to illegally enter land or cause an object to illegally enter the land with the purpose of committing a crime or without authorization. This means that not only is your physical presence on the property actionable, but causing an item like a drone to enter federal property can also result in criminal charges.
To learn more about the penalties for federal criminal trespassing, continue reading and speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.
Penalties for Criminal Trespassing on a Military Base
The penalties for trespassing on a military base or other federal property will vary depending on the circumstances of the defendant’s case. For example, trespassing on a military base and then stealing government property will result in charges of trespassing and theft.
If a defendant is convicted of trespassing on a military base, they can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and could owe a $500 fine, or both. If a defendant was found committing a crime when they were arrested, they will likely be charged with those offenses as part of the same criminal case. This means that their potential six months imprisonment can be increased by months or even years depending on the nature of the offense.
If a defendant is also charged with state crimes for trespassing, the penalties for this crime can also vary. If the State of Utah charged the trespassing offense as a class A misdemeanor, the defendant can face up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines if convicted. If the offense is charged as a class B misdemeanor, the defendant can face up to six months in jail and owe $1,000 in fines.
When the defendant commits a crime on the property, like theft, the penalties will be significantly enhanced. This means the defendant could spend multiple years in prison.
There are a few defenses that could be used to combat a trespassing case. For example, if the trespassing offense is characterized as a specific intent crime, the defendant can argue they did not have an intention to commit a crime on the property. Necessity is another defense. This defense states that a person had a need to enter the property to escape from a serious problem, like being chased by an individual that wishes to harm them.
Work with an Experienced Utah Military Base Trespassing Defense Attorney You Can Trust
If you or a loved one was charged with trespassing on federal property, contact an experienced Salt Lake City federal defense attorney today. Federal trespass defense lawyer Darwin Overson possesses a wealth of experience litigating complex defense cases, and he would be proud to work with you on your case. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2287.