There are three “degrees” of trespassing crimes that one can be charged with under Colorado law.
The least serious is third degree criminal trespass. Under Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-4-504, a person commits the crime of third degree criminal trespass if such person unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the premises of another. Third degree criminal trespass is a class 1 petty offense, and a conviction carries with it a fine of not more than $500, or imprisonment for not more than six months. However, third degree criminal trespass can become a class 5 felony if the person trespasses on a premises so classified as agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony.
A person commits the crime of second degree criminal trespass if such person:
(a) Unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the premises of another which are enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or are fenced; or
(b) Knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the common areas of a hotel, motel, condominium, or apartment building; or
(c) Knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a motor vehicle of another.
The law defines “premises” as real property, buildings, and other improvements thereon, and the stream banks and beds of any non-navigable fresh water streams flowing through such real property.
Second degree criminal trespass is a class 3 misdemeanor. In Colorado, a class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000. However, aggravating circumstances involving agricultural land can make a second degree criminal trespassing charge rise from a class 3 to a class 2 misdemeanor, or even a class 4 felony.
First degree criminal trespass is the most serious trespassing crime in Colorado. According to Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-4-502, a person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass if such person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another or if such person enters any motor vehicle with intent to commit a crime therein.
For the State to convict someone under the first part of this statute, it must prove that the alleged trespasser entered or remained in a dwelling. In fact, the Colorado Supreme Court has held that the crucial distinction between first degree criminal trespass and second and third degree trespass is that the prosecution must prove the additional element that the property which was unlawfully entered is a dwelling. The court has also held in a prior case that a dwelling may encompass the entire residential structure, including an attached garage.
For the State to convict under the second part of the statute, it must prove not just that a person unlawfully entered a motor vehicle, but that that person did so with the intent to commit a crime therein. The burden falls on the state to prove this intent to commit a crime. It must prove both what the crime was and that the person intended to commit it.
First degree criminal trespass is a class 5 felony. The minimum penalty for class 4 felonies is 1 year in prison and/or $1,000 in fines, with the maximum penalty being three years in prison and/or $100,000 in fines.
As one can see from the above, the State of Colorado takes the crime of criminal trespass seriously. If you have been charged with trespassing in Douglas County or anywhere else in the Denver Metro Area, our attorneys are here to help. Give us a call.