There are several types of trespass offences police use to charge people when they have entered onto property they are not authorised to.
Serious Criminal Trespass
The most common is serious criminal trespass – in other words: burglary or where a person enters a place with the intention of committing a crime such as theft.
Sometimes people, particularly young people trespass in buildings and on land just because they are curious or because they are following a group. Nevertheless they may be charged with serious criminal trespass and police may allege they were there to commit an offence such as theft or property damage. A lawyer will explain your rights to you and speak to the police on your behalf to try to get the charge withdrawn or down-graded. It is extremely important for people to have legal representation when charged with serious criminal trespass because a criminal record for any kind of trespass can impact on your future.
In South Australia home invasion is known as aggravated serious criminal trespass. This is when there is someone home at the time of the serious criminal trespass and the defendant knew that or was reckless about whether anyone was inside. This is an offence that has a maximum penalty of life in prison. A lawyer reads through all the evidence the police have against the defendant and identifies where there are weaknesses and any possible defences.
Evidence in these kind of cases usually consists of finger prints and DNA, witness statements, CCTV footage, clothing and sometimes admissions made by the defendant to the police. All of this evidence may be challenged by a lawyer.
Other kinds of trespass
When police do not think that someone was trespassing in order to commit a crime, and there was someone inside the property, they may charge the person with criminal trespass under section 170 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act.
The least serious trespassing offences are under the Summary Offences Act but they are still serious and if you were found guilty or pleaded guilty to any of them they could severely harm your future prospects.
All of these trespass options mean there are lots of ways to negotiate with prosecutors in these kind of cases. For example, by pointing out the weaknesses in their case, a lawyer might be able to convince a prosecutor that they should accept a guilty plea to a less serious charge so their client has a better chance of avoiding a gaol term.
Dealing with police and other prosecutors
Remember, prosecutors must always prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Every element of the offence must be proved. This means that for example, where a person had consent to enter a property there is no trespass. Where there is no evidence the person meant to commit an offence when inside the property the serious criminal trespass offence cannot be proved (but there still might have been a simple trespass). Your lawyer will discuss with the police the problems with their case and try to get the charge withdrawn. If that is not possible, your lawyer will represent you in court at a trial, unless you want to plead guilty. At Mac and Co Lawyers you are in charge of your case.
When multiple people are charged
When a group of people are charged with a trespass of any sort, the laws around joint enterprise may apply. A good criminal lawyer will have knowledge of the law of joint enterprise and be able to advise their client well. Jessie MacGillivray has experience in many kinds of trespass cases and will fight to protect your rights and your freedom.