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3 ways you can defend against trespass charges in Missouri

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Getting accused of trespass in Missouri can be unsettling, as it can lead to both civil and criminal liability. Trespass happens when someone enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission.

However, facing a trespass charge does not mean you are automatically guilty. There are several ways to defend against such accusations and protect your rights in Missouri’s legal system.

1. Mistake of fact

This defense might be applicable if you genuinely believed you were on public property, if the boundaries of the property were unclear or poorly marked or if you were misled by incorrect information. Demonstrating that you were unaware that you were entering private property or that you had a reasonable belief that you were within your rights to be where you were can be a compelling defense against trespass charges.

2. Consent

This is the most common and straightforward defense against trespass charges. If you can prove that you had explicit or implied permission to be on the property, then you have a strong defense. Explicit permission can be demonstrated through written agreements, verbal communication or other forms of direct authorization from the owner or someone authorized to grant permission.

3. Necessity or emergency

If you accessed the property out of necessity or to respond to an emergency situation, you may have a viable defense against trespass charges. This defense asserts that your entry onto the property was justified by the need to prevent harm to yourself or others, to render assistance in an emergency or to protect property from damage. For example, if you entered private property to provide medical aid to someone in distress or to extinguish a fire threatening nearby structures, you can argue that your actions were justified by the urgency of the situation.

You may consider legal guidance to help evaluate your situation, understand the available defenses, and effectively address the charges in Missouri’s legal system.