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Law Girl
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Experience:  I have practiced criminal law.
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What is the penalty for trespassing in Tennessee?

Resolved Question:

what is the penalty for trespassing in Tennessee?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Girl replied 9 years ago.


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).

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Good Luck!


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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
what constitutes force in criminal trespass please? police charged my son with criminal trespass but I believe the charge was simply trespass. Judge gave a sentance of 11/29 at 75 percent, suspended with time served and 6 mos. probation and then dismissed. No attorney was present/offered to my son.
Expert:  Law Girl replied 9 years ago.

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.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
He had no weapons and used no force. in your firt answer you said criminal trespass carried fine or 30 days; in the second answer you cited the Judge's discretion. His criminal history is DUIs. Is the penalty cited in your first answer only a guide? The charge (according to the case#) reads only trespassing.
He camped at a place where people generally four-wheel. His dog got lost, he got lost in the dark/woods looking for the dog, followed lights, went to a house, knocked, asked for help, homeowner offered to call police, son sat down & waited for police. was arrested for criminal trespass, public intox.
Expert:  Law Girl replied 9 years ago.

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.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your help.