Two teenagers were rescued from a river at High Falls State Park last month after they found themselves stranded. Butts County has now charged them both with criminal trespass.
According to reports, the teenagers were found in an area of the river where there were numerous signs warning people to stay off the falls.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I will spend today's post on the law behind criminal trespass in our state.
Criminal Trespass in Georgia
Georgia Law outlines the ways that a person can commit the offense of criminal trespass in Georgia in O.C.G.A. §16-7-21.
A person commits the offense of criminal trespass:
- When he or she intentionally damages any property of another without consent of that other person and the damage thereto is $500.00 or less; or
- When he or she knowingly and maliciously interferes with the possession or use of the property of another person without consent of that person.
- When he or she knowingly and without authority enters on the land or premises or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person for an unlawful purpose;
- When he or she knowingly and without authority enters onto the land or premises of another person or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after receiving notice from the owner that such entry is forbidden; or
- When he or she knowingly and without authority remains on the land or premises of another person or within the vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after the owner has asked the person to leave.
- When he or she intentionally defaces, mutilates, or defiles any grave marker, monument, or memorial to one or more deceased persons who served in the military.
In order to be convicted of criminal trespass, the state of Georgia must prove that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by demonstrating that he or she remained on the land or property without authority.
If convicted of criminal trespass in Georgia, the conviction is classified as a misdemeanor conviction. The penalty can include up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I'd like to point out that everyone is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That being said, there are applicable Georgia Criminal Defenses to an accusation of criminal trespass.
These defenses include but are not limited to:
- Unintentional property damage
- Unclear notice of no entry