Definition of Trespass on School Grounds
The crime of Trespass on School Grounds or Facilities is defined in Section 810.097, Florida Statutes. Under the law, a trespass occurs where the defendant enters or remains upon school property without authorization or a legitimate business purpose, or where the defendant enters or remains upon school grounds after being told by administrators not to be present.
Thus, the offense can occur in two scenarios: (1) Trespass on School Grounds or Facilities (no prior warnings from administrators), and (2) Trespass on School Grounds After Warning by a Principal or Designee.
Trespass on School Grounds (No Prior Warning)
To prove the offense of trespass on school grounds with (no prior warning) at trial, the State of Florida must establish the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant entered or remained on the campus of a school or school facility, and
- The defendant did not have any legitimate business on the campus or any other authorization, license, or invitation, or the defendant had been suspended or expelled at the time he or she entered or remained upon the campus.
Under the statute, the term “school” means the grounds or any facility of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, or secondary school- whether public or private.
Trespass on School Grounds (After Warning)
To prove this offense at trial, the State of Florida must establish the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant entered or remained on the campus or any facility of a school; and
- The principal of the school (or his or her designee) told or directed the defendant to leave the campus or facility, or told the defendant not to enter the campus or facility.
Penalties for the Offense
In Florida, the penalties for Trespass on School Grounds will vary according to whether there was a prior warning by administrators not to be present on the property. Where there was no prior warning, the offense is a classified as a second degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to sixty days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
Where the charge is Trespass on School Grounds After Warning by a Principal or Designee, the offense is upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year jail or twelve months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine.
There are multiple defenses available to contest a charge of Trespass on School Grounds or Facilities, and no person should attempt to resolve their case without first speaking with an attorney. Some of the more common defenses to this charge are as follows:
- Mistaken identity;
- Lack of proof as to identity;
- Property not a “school” within the meaning of Section 810.097;
- Defendant was not within the boundaries of a school property;
- Legitimate purpose on the property or campus;
- Express authorization or license to be present;
- Implied invitation to be present;
- No prior warnings (if charged as prior warning);
- Inadequate or ambiguous warning (if charged as prior warning);
- No directive from a principal or qualified “designee;”
- Lack of evidence as to boundaries of school property.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been charged with Trespass on School Grounds or Property, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potetnial penalties. contact attorney Steven Sessa today for a free consultation. Attorney Steven Sessa handles cases throughout Southeast and Central Florida.