Most people don’t know that you can go to jail for trespassing in Ohio. We think of trespassing as a “minor” crime that will only result in a slap on the wrist or a fine in the worst-case scenario.

These beliefs are mistaken. While criminal trespass isn’t as serious as theft crimes, sex crimes, or drug crimes, it is still has consequences. It can also result in jail time and a criminal conviction that tarnishes your record.

What is Criminal Trespass in Dayton, Ohio?

According to the Ohio Revised Code, there are five different ways to commit a trespass in Dayton, Ohio. 

  1. By knowingly entering or remaining on someone else’s property. 
  2. By entering or remaining on someone else’s property when you know you are restricted from being there. This may be due to the inherent purpose of the property, stated hours of a business or an official barrment.
  3. By recklessly entering someone else’s property after being warned by a conspicuous sign, fence, or person associated with the property. 
  4. By negligently failing to leave someone else’s property after seeing a sign or being warned by a person associated with the property.
  5. By entering or remaining on a critical infrastructure facility. Critical infrastructure facilities include power plants, water treatment facilities, and cell phone towers.

The key is to avoid entering another’s property without explicit permission — and to leave immediately when asked.

Are There Defenses to Criminal Trespass in Ohio?

The best defense against criminal trespass is having permission from the property owner to be present or remain on the property. But, permission is not a valid defense if you deceived someone to get it. 

Another defense is that you didn’t knowingly enter someone else’s property. Property owners have a responsibility to signal to the public that their land is privately owned. This signal may be a no trespassing sign, a fence or gate, or some other notice. If the landowner didn’t have a sign or anything to suggest that the land is private, then you may have a defense. 

Of course, it is always a defense to any criminal charge to argue that the prosecutor did not meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. As the defendant, you never have to put on evidence or prove anything. You cannot be found guilty unless the government can prove your case.

What is the Punishment for Criminal Trespass in Ohio?

If you are convicted of criminal trespass in Ohio, it is a 4th-degree misdemeanor. The exception is if you are convicted of trespass because you were at a critical infrastructure facility. In that case, it is a 1st degree misdemeanor. 

A 4th degree misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $250 and/or up to 30 days in jail. A 1st degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 180 days in jail.

Sentencing Enhancements for Criminal Trespass

The criminal code outlines two situations that can enhance the penalty for trespass. 

  1. If you trespass while on a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle, or ATV, then the fine will be doubled.
  2. If you have been convicted of trespass two or more times already and used a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle, or ATV, then the vehicle will be impounded for at least 60 days.

It’s important to remember that your lawyer can argue for a less severe sentence, even after conviction. In fact, a criminal defense lawyer will be your biggest ally when fighting a criminal trespass case at every step of the way. They can help investigate your case, stand up for you in court, and negotiate for the dismissal of the charges.

We understand that sometimes people make mistakes and end up somewhere they shouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean that you should go to jail for it. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Dayton, Ohio, is the best thing you can do after being charged with trespass.

To learn more, call our Dayton Criminal Defense law firm at (937) 531-0435 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.