Thank you for your question.
According to Tennessee law, any person who unlawfully enters the property of another may be guilty of trespassing. The penalties for this offense vary depending on whether the trespass was civil or criminal. If the accused person uses force to enter the property and has knowledge that the owner has not consented to the entry, the trespass is criminal. If the property is entered without force the trespass is civil. Any person who commits a civil trespass may be sued for monetary damages, but they will not face criminal charges. Criminal trespassing, however, may result in criminal charges against the offender.
Criminal trespass is a Class C Misdemeanor and can be punished by a fine or a sentence of up to 30 days in jail. Tenn. Code Ann. 40-35-111 (2006).
Please let me know if you have any other questions, or require clarification of this matter. Otherwise please hit "ACCEPT", so I may receive credit for my response. Tips and feedback are also appreciated.
It sounds like your son was charged in a criminal court with trespass.
Force is defined quite liberally. For example it could mean trespassing on the property with a weapon, or using physical force to enter the property.
Your son's sentence is discretionary by the judge and could depend on many factors, i.e. his previous criminal history, where he committed his criminal trespass, the facts of the crime, etc.
Unless your son was charged with a felony, he may not have had the right to a court-appointed attorney. The right to a court-appointed attorney in cases where the defendant is too poor to afford to hire a lawyer is usually triggered if the charge is a felony, but not for less-serious crimes.
Yes, the penalty in my first answer is a general guide for judges. A judge has ultimate discretion over the sentence, especially if there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. a criminal history). Additionally, there are different degrees of criminal trespass. It is likely that the judge considered the public intoxication, especially in light of your son's DUI history.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).