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Man found in judge's yard charged with misdemeanor trespass

Criminal trespass in Texas involves going onto someone else's property without consent. The crime is a misdemeanor under state law. For a conviction, the law requires that the accused must have received effective notice not to trespass. Alternatively, the accused will be found guilty if he or she does not leave the property after being told to do so.

The requirement of notice is a significant possible defense in criminal trespass cases in Texas. One recent case that may confront that issue is the arrest of a convicted felon by the McLennan County Sheriff's Office for criminal trespass on the property of a Waco judge. The authorities were called to the property by a witness who allegedly saw the accused in the judge's back yard, looking in windows.

The man is on probation for a prior drug possession conviction. He is being held in custody in lieu of $400,000 bond on the trespassing charge and $400,000 on the probation violation. Criminal defense counsel will look carefully at the bond, which appears to be extraordinarily high, considering that the trespass charge is a misdemeanor.

The Sheriff indicated that he is treating the offense seriously to protect a judge's life, even though he admitted that no weapon was found on the accused. The Sheriff stated that the accused has a cousin who has a criminal case pending in the judge's court. For that reason, he did not think that the event was a coincidence.

The notice requirement under the Texas criminal trespass statute may provide a potential defense to the defendant for this misdemeanor charge. Here, there appears to be no prior notice and no signs on the property that would forbid entrance. It may be common sense to conclude that the owner of a residential property does not want trespassers coming on the premises, but the letter of the law does not offer such an interpretation.

Source: kwtx.com, "Convicted felon caught "lurking" around local judge's home arrested", Rissa Shaw, Jan. 27, 2017

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