What is the Law on Trespass in Alabama and What are the Punishments for it?
What is Criminal Trespass?
Criminal trespass is where someone enters a property or building that belongs to someone else without that person’s permission. Entering into property or building without the consent of the owner or remaining in that place even after being asked to leave is what constitutes an offense. In many cases, the owners of the property put up a notice barring entry without permission. In such a case, trespassing is a criminal offense punishable by law.
Trespass Laws in Alabama
In the state of Alabama, Section 13A, Chapter 7, Article 1 deals with offenses related to burglary and criminal trespass. Criminal trespass has been categorized under three different degree of offenses, depending on the nature of the offense committed.
Criminal trespass in the first degree is the most serious offense related to trespass. A person would be guilty of this offense if he enters or continues to remain in a dwelling unlawfully. The offense is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor.
Criminal trespass in the second degree is applicable in a situation where a person enters a building or enclosed property knowingly or remains there unlawfully. Second-degree criminal trespass is treated as a Class C misdemeanor.
Criminal trespass in the third degree is where a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in an open premise. Third-degree criminal trespass is considered as a violation.
While all three degrees of criminal trespass appears to be the same, there are distinct differences. First-degree criminal trespass is entering into a dwelling where people live. This is a serious offense as there would be people staying who face risk when someone trespasses. Hence this is considered a serious offense if the person enters or remains in an unlawful way.
Second-degree criminal trespass is applicable for buildings and property. This does not include houses. It refers to commercial buildings or land that is enclosed. It is an offense entering someone else’s land, only if the land is enclosed or barricaded by a fence erected to prevent intruders.
Third-degree trespass is applicable for an open premise that has no building or is not enclosed. This is not a serious offense as per the laws in Alabama.
Criminal trespass by motor vehicle is an offense in Alabama. This offense is committed when someone drives through a parking area repeatedly or parks illegally, even after being warned by the owner of the property or a law officer. Punishment for this offense is a fine not exceeding $50. Subsequent offenses can lead to enhanced fines of up to $150.
Unauthorized entry into a prohibited area in critical infrastructure like refinery, electric station, chemical factory, switching station, etc. is an offense, that is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
Trespass into a school bus where children are passengers and refusing to leave the bus is an offense under the trespass laws. It is considered a Class A misdemeanor.
Punishment for Trespass in Alabama
As per the laws of the state, trespass may be a misdemeanor or a violation. The punishments for these offenses are as follows:
Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment in county jail for a period of not more than 1 year, or a fine of up to $6000, or both fine and imprisonment.
Class C Misdemeanor: Imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than 3 months, or a fine of up to $500, or both fine and imprisonment.
Violation: Imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of 30 days, or a fine that does not exceed $200, or both.