In Florida, Trespassing On Certain Types of Property Can Get You Convicted of a Felony

By Lowry Law Firm | Posted on March 12, 2015

Trespassing is widely viewed as one of the most minor infractions of the law. What a lot of people do not realize, however, is that in the state of Florida, trespassing on certain types of land – including construction sites – can be a felony.

Most trespassing offenses are misdemeanors. However, Florida Statute 810.09 lists several different forms of trespassing that are considered felonies in the third degree. (A third-degree felony is not as severe an offense as a second-degree felony, or a first-degree felony – but keep in mind that being convicted of any type of felony can have lifelong consequences.) These forms of trespassing involve not only construction sites, but also commercial horticulture properties, and facilities that manufacture agricultural chemicals.

Felony Trespassing

Trespassing on those types of sites is not always a felony. Under the statute, felony charges apply in these specific situations:

  1. When someone trespasses on a construction site that is greater than one acre in area, and is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED CONSTRUCTION SITE, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”
  2. When someone trespasses on a construction site that is one acre or less in area, with a sign that appears prominently, in letters of not less than two inches in height, and reads in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED CONSTRUCTION SITE, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.” In addition, the sign must be placed in the same location as the construction site’s permits.
  3. When someone trespasses on a commercial horticulture property, and the property is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS DESIGNATED COMMERCIAL PROPERTY FOR HORTICULTURAL PRODUCTS, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”
  4. When someone trespasses on an agricultural chemicals manufacturing facility that is legally posted and identified in substantially the following manner: “THIS AREA IS A DESIGNATED AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS MANUFACTURING FACILITY, AND ANYONE WHO TRESPASSES ON THIS PROPERTY COMMITS A FELONY.”

If the land did not have a sign, or other type of posting, that fits the specifications above, then felony charges would not apply. However, note the language of the statute – it doesn’t say that the postings must be written in exactly those words. Rather, it says that the postings must be written in “substantially the manner” of them.

I Was Arrested for Trespassing – Now What?

If you have been charged with trespassing, you should take the charge seriously. Officials in Florida have begun cracking down on trespassing offenses. For example, in Broward County, the city of Pembroke Pines has enacted a program designed to remove more trespassers from privately owned land. You should not expect the legal system to brush off this type of offense.

However, there are legal defenses to trespassing, and a lawyer can help protect your rights. You can schedule a consultation with Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Mark S. Lowry by calling his office today.