Trespass of a Dwelling


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Thomas By Thomas C. Grajek

Trespass occurs whenever an individual willfully enters or remains on property other than a structure or a conveyance, which means a dwelling, without being authorized, licensed, or invited when either:

  • Notice is given by actual communication to the arrested trespasser or by proper posting, fencing, or cultivation under Florida criminal law, or
  • If the property is the “unenclosed curtilage” and the individual remains with the intent to commit a criminal act, other than trespass

If the trespass occurred near a dwelling, the courts will look to see how close you were to the “unenclosed curtilage” of a dwelling. The term “unenclosed curtilage” means the unenclosed land or grounds, and any outbuildings that are directly and intimately adjacent to and connected with the dwelling.

Trespass on a structure other than a structure or conveyance is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail and a $1,000.00 fine. Florida Criminal Statute 810.09.

There are many defenses to Trespass on a Property Other Than a Structure or Conveyance including:

  • Willfulness – The trespass must be willful! Reasonable mistake is a defense! Courts measure willfulness by what the arrested person was thinking/intent proved by objective facts
  • Consent – If you were given permission to enter onto the property then you have a defense. Consent can come in many forms! (express, implied, constructive)
  • Necessity – the arrested person needed to use the property for a justifiable purpose
  • Notice – was the posting on the property legally sufficient under Florida law to put the individual on notice that they were trespassing?
  • Authorization – Was the person who gave the notice to leave authorized to do so and did that person or police officer have the authority to give the order to vacate under Florida criminal law?
  • Other defenses may be available depending on the specific facts of your case.

Trespass can be also be a more serious felony criminal offense. Click below for more information on these types of crimes:

Each case is different and unique based upon the individual facts of your case. Do not let a criminal charge or criminal conviction affect your employment, education, or future. Call now to set up your free consultation so I can answer any questions you may have regarding your criminal case.


— Thomas C. Grajek

Lakeland, FL (863) 838-5549
Tampa, FL (813) 789-6404


What’s the difference between trespass and criminal trespass?

There’s a major difference between trespass and criminal trespass. One commits civil trespass when they get onto someone’s property without the consent of its landowner. On the other hand, criminal trespassing is committed when you entered someone’s land despite knowing that you were not permitted to enter or ignored clear “no trespassing” signs, yet, you entered or stayed on the premises regardless.

How do I get rid of trespassers?

To get rid of trespassers legally, it is best to contact the authorities as soon as possible. If the trespassers resist, according to a Florida Statutes, a person has the right to use or threaten to use force, except deadly force, against another person to prevent them from trespassing.

How long do you have to use the land before it becomes yours?

For land to become yours, you need to use it for at least seven years and either under “color of title” or payment of property taxes for seven years under Florida Adverse Possession Laws. Occupants who publicly move into an otherwise neglected property and improve this property can be granted title to it after a period of time.