If you’ve got no business being on school property, you can be charged with “Trespass upon grounds or facilities of a school,” according to Florida Statute 810.097. At the very least, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor that can get you 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. If they catch you on school grounds after being told to stay away, you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. That comes with a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A conviction either way means a criminal record with lifelong consequences.
The law is to protect children, but sometimes police wind up charging innocent people. Harmless visitors, parents, protesters, and journalists can find themselves arrested and charged unfairly. If you face criminal charges in Florida, the best bet is to talk with a criminal defense attorney right away. Call 407-644-2466 to protect your rights and get a free consultation with an experienced and aggressive defense lawyer at the Rivas Law Firm
Florida School Trespassing Charges
Under the statute, “school” is defined as “the grounds or any facility, including school buses, of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, or secondary school, whether public or nonpublic.” Anyone who “does not have legitimate business” or “authorization, license, or invitation to enter or remain upon school property; or is a student currently under suspension or expulsion” may be deemed a trespasser.
A student who returns to school property after being expelled – or while under suspension — may be charged with second-degree misdemeanor trespassing. Anyone barred from school property or ordered to leave can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if they ignore the warnings and return.
School Safety Zones
In addition to prohibiting trespassing on school property, the law establishes a safety zone around schools. According to Florida Statute 810.975, the no-trespass zone extends to any area within 500 feet of school property for an hour before and until an hour after classes are in session. While designed to protect students from child predators, it’s easy to see how an innocent person may be charged with trespassing. A violation is a second-degree misdemeanor. A repeat offense may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
Defense Against Florida Trespassing Charges
If you face trespassing charges in Florida, a criminal defense attorney can fight the charges in several ways. As with any criminal prosecution, the police and the state’s attorney must follow legal procedures and prove the charges. An experienced and determined defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate to find weaknesses and missteps in the prosecution’s case. Can the prosecutor prove to a jury, for instance, whether you were within a school boundary or safety zone? Can they prove that an authorized person gave you a clear warning or directive to stay off the property? Perhaps you had a legitimate reason to be where you were.
If a prosecutor knows he has a legal battle on his hands, your lawyer may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Your best chance at avoiding a conviction and a criminal record is with a tough and aggressive defense attorney fighting for your rights. Call 407-644-2466 and talk to the Orlando criminal defense lawyers at the Rivas Law Firm.