Criminal trespassing consists of entering or remaining on real property that does not belong to you. Real property typically refers to privately owned land, but the law includes provisions for trespassing on automotive vehicles or locations like airports, nuclear facilities, or places of public amusement.
A conviction usually requires clear notification, which can include verbal notice. If you are trespassing on someone’s land unknowingly because there is no signage, you have a reasonable defense in the eyes of the law. However, if the owner or someone else verbally notifies you that you are not allowed, that constitutes reasonable notification. You must immediately leave the premises to avoid legal liability.
The complete law is available under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/21-3
There are clearly defined exceptions to trespassing law. If an individual uses another’s property in order to avoid immediate danger or threat of danger, then no crime has been committed. Secondly, if the property has been abandoned for a full year and no taxes have been paid for two years, then the law provides an exception for individuals or groups who enter the property with the express intention of beautifying it. In other words, if a person enters in order to remove litter, perform repairs, or improve the cosmetics of the property, then their presence is legal. There are limitations to this defense, however. An individual cannot enter a privately owned forest, pick up a couple pieces of trash, and lawfully camp overnight. Whether to take shelter or improve the cosmetic appearance of the property, this must be the only reason(s) to enter the property.
An individual who criminally trespasses is subject to a Class B misdemeanor, and a conviction can produce a prison sentence up to six months, probation up to two years, and/or a fine up to $2,500.
In the special case that an individual has trespassed on agricultural property with a vehicle, the charge can be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor. As a more serious offense, this charge also carries a fine of up to $2,500 and a probationary term of two years, but the prison sentence can be extended up to a full year. This provision is designed, among other things, to prevent theft or damage of agricultural crops.
As mentioned above, there are exceptions to criminal trespassing which may be viable defenses in the court of law. Misdemeanors are sometimes confused as non-serious offenses, but a conviction will result in long-term consequences apart from prison time, fines, and probation. In order to secure your future and full legal rights, the best course of action is always to equip yourself with professional legal expertise.
Kerr & Schmiege are nationally recognized criminal defense lawyers for DuPage County, including the cities of Wheaton, Naperville, Aurora, Westmont, Oak Brook, and Lombard. Give your future the best chance with our highly skilled defense strategies and understanding of prosecutor tactics. Contact us immediately to ensure your rights are upheld to the fullest extent of the law.
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