Entering a person’s property without their permission or staying there without their permission is considered trespassing in Missouri and is illegal. Similarly, breaking and entering into someone’s property with the use of force (even if it’s just pushing a door open) without the owner’s permission is, at the very least, considered breaking and entering, which is considered a misdemeanor.
Below, you will find information regarding the penalties of breaking both trespassing and breaking and entering (burglary) laws in Missouri, along with how an experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you in mitigating any charges that may have been pressed against you or a loved one.
Missouri Trespassing Laws
Since the ways that laws are written (especially trespassing laws) can be challenging to understand, it’s always best to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney in Missouri who specializes in this legal field. In the meantime, if you’re just in the market for some general information regarding Missouri’s trespassing laws, the following statues have been broken down into plain English by Findlaw.com. Again remember that the following information is by no means complete and absolute, and if you’re ever facing criminal charges, you need to work with a Missouri attorney.
Notice Requirements & The Purple Paint Statute
There are many factors that can weigh into a trespassing case. One of these is whether or not the person’s property had clear markers to keep trespassers out. In Missouri this could include any of the following markers or signage:
- A fence in installed
- Telling the person or persons who are attempting to trespass that they can’t enter the property.
- A sign that says “No Trespassing”
In addition to these markers, the Purple Paint Statue of Missouri states that land that is marked with purple paint is also a sign letting would-be trespassers know they cannot pass through or into the property. According to Findlaw.com, the statute expresses the following as indicators as a no-trespassing sign via purple paint:
- Any real property owner or lessee can mark the property with purple paint;
- Purple paint marks are placed on trees or posts;
- Vertical paint lines must be at least 8 inches long; the bottom edge of each mark must be between 3 ft. and 5 ft. off the ground;
- Marks must readily visible to any person who approaches the property;
- Purple paint marks can’t be more than 100 ft. apart.
Trespassing in Missouri Penalties
If charged with trespassing in Missouri, a person will generally face either a charge of trespassing in the first or second degree, both of which are misdemeanor crimes. Below is information regarding what specific factors determine each charge and the penalties for each of these crimes.
Trespassing in The Second Degree
To be a charged and convicted with trespassing in the second degree a person or persons must have committed the following acts:
- Enters the property of another unlawfully and without permission from the owner.
- An offense of absolute liability, meaning the property doesn’t have to be marked against trespassing or have a fence.
The charge for this crime is a fine of up to $200.
Trespassing in The First Degree
Being charged with trespassing in the first degree in Missouri means that a person or persons have committed any of the following offenses:
- Enter a property that is clearly marked with purple paint, as described in the Missouri Statutes.
- Enters into a property with “No Trespassing” signs posted.
- Enters into a property that is fenced.
- Knowingly, unlawfully enters a property or refuses to leave after being told to.
The charge in Missouri for trespassing in the first degree is a Class B Misdemeanor with up to six months in county jail and up to a $500 fine.
When Trespassing Becomes Breaking and Entering in Missouri
If a person uses force to enter the property and, “Knowingly entering unlawfully or knowingly remaining unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure for purposes of committing a crime inside.” they will be charged with more than just trespassing. The above offense is considered a second-degree burglary charge, which is a felony.
When a person or persons use force to enter into a property, they are immediately committing the offense of breaking and entering. If, in addition to this, they unlawfully and/or knowingly remain in order to commit another crime, the breaking and entering charged crime will be absorbed into a burglary charge in Missouri- a more serious offense. A second-degree burglary charge comes with a maximum sentence of up to 7 years in prison. The court can opt to give the defendant one year in county jail. If the sentence is longer than one year’s time, they will be sent to prison.
Burglary in the first degree has even more extreme penalties. A person has committed burglary in the first degree if he or she unlawfully and knowingly remains in a building for the intent and purpose of committing an illegal activity inside the structure and any of the following conditions exist:
- The person has a deadly weapon or explosives on their person
- The person threatens or causes physical injury to another who isn’t part of the crime.
- A person who was not privy to the crime is present.
Burglary in the first degree is considered a Class B Felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in the Department of Corrections (DOC).
Since trespassing can so easily become engrossed in more extreme charges, such as breaking and entering or burglary, it’s important for the outcome of your case that you discuss your charges with a well-versed criminal defense attorney in Missouri.
How An Attorney in Missouri Can Help
Criminal defense attorneys are trained and well-versed in the laws of Missouri, as well as the laws pertaining to the federal government. Because of this, it’s in the best interest of your future that you schedule an initial consultation to find an attorney that can help you fight any trespassing or breaking and entering in Missouri charges you or a loved one may be facing. A trusted attorney, like the criminal defense attorneys of Missouri Legal, can aid you in revealing the strengths and weaknesses of your case so that you have a fighting chance against the charges you face.
If you would like to set up a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys in Missouri to see if we are a good fit for you, give us a call. You have nothing to lose.