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Criminal Trespass

Entering a property when you’re not permitted to is a crime in Iowa known as trespassing. The offense can range from peeping toms taking photos or recordings on someone else’s property to blatantly stepping onto private property despite the proper signage. In either scenario, the person could be charged with a crime and could face life changing penalties.

Trespassing onto another person’s property is a crime with serious consequences including fines, restitution costs, probation, and incarceration. That is why it’s vital you have legal representation to fight these allegations. If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal trespass, it’s imperative you seek an experienced criminal defense attorney now.

Criminal Trespass Defense Attorney in West Des Moines, IA

Entering another’s property without their permission can land you in some hot water. Iowa legislators have implemented steep penalties for those who have trespassed onto another’s property. For these reasons and more, we suggest you hire legal counsel immediately. 

Find an criminal defense attorney with years of property crime experience with McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. Our team of property crime defense lawyers have been practicing collectively for decades and want to utilize our resources and knowledge for your case. Call (515) 279-9700 now so you can set up your first consultation free. 

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represents people throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area such as Altoona, Ankeny, Waukee, Perry, and De Soto.

Overview of Criminal Trespass in Iowa

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Legal Definitions for Iowa’s Trespassing Statute

To have a full grasp on Iowa’s trespassing laws, you must first learn several important legal definitions. These terms may have a different meaning colloquially than they do in a court setting. These terms include the following:

  • Property – Any land, building, vehicle, conveyance or temporary/permanent structure whether it is publicly or privately owned.
  • Public Utility – Any person, partnership, business, corporation, association, domestic or foreign, that is owning or operating facilities for:
    • Furnished gas by piped distribution system or electricity to the public.
    • Communications services to the public.
    • Water services and pipe distribution systems.
    • Sanitary sewage or storm water drainage systems for the public.
  • Public Utility Property – Any land, dwelling, building, vehicle or other structure operated by a public utility company and is enclosed completely by a fence.
  • Railway Corporation – Corporations, companies or people who own, lease or operate a railroad in the whole state or part of Iowa.
  • Reasonable Expectation of Privacy – In which a reasonable person would believe that they could disrobe or partially undress themselves in privacy, without any concern of someone watching or photographing the event. 

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What Constitutes as Trespassing in Iowa?

Trespassing is a criminal offense in the state of Iowa with harsh penalties. The crime itself is defined under Iowa Code 716.7 and states a person is committing trespass if they:

  • Entering a property without express permission of the property owner.
  • Entering or staying on a property without justification after being asked to abstain from entering the property or by the peace officer, magistrate, or other public employee whose duty to supervise the property.
  • The person was notified to abstain from entering the property personally or by written notice which includes a valid court order.
  • Given written or printed notice forbidding entry to the property.
  • Entering despite the signage or written/printed notice that states such entry is forbidden.
  • Trespassing onto the property for the purpose of interfering with the lawful use of the property by other people.
  • Entering or staying on railway property without the lawful authority by the railroad company.
  • Trespassing onto a public utility property without lawful authority.
  • Viewing, photographing, or filming another person through a window or any other opening while the person who is being viewed has a reasonable expectation of privacy and doesn’t consent to the act or is unaware of it.

The Iowa Code states certain scenarios cannot be considered trespassing. Those include:

  • Entering a property to retrieve personal items which were thrown, fallen, strayed or blown onto another’s property.
  • Entering a right-of-way of a public road or highway. 

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Penalties for Trespassing Under Iowa Law

Violation of Iowa’s trespassing statute will result in criminal penalties. The consequences for the crime are determined by the circumstances of the case including how much damage was sustained if any. A standard trespassing charge is a simple misdemeanor, which can lead to a fine between $65 and $625 as well as up to 30 days in jail. It’s important to note an officer can arrest you if you refuse to leave the property after receiving a citation. 

If injury or damage amounting to over $300 occurs, then you’ll face a serious misdemeanor. You can also be charged with a serious misdemeanor if you trespassed with intent to commit a hate crime. “Peeping” into another person’s home to videotape, photograph, or view them without their consent when they are expected to have reasonable amount of privacy is also a serious misdemeanor. The penalties for a serious misdemeanor include the following:

  • A fine between $315 and $1,875
  • Up to one year in jail

If you had intent to commit a hate crime and an injury arose from the event, then you should expect to be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor. The penalties for an aggravated misdemeanor include a fine between $625 and $6,2500 and a jail sentence of up to two years.

Trespassing onto a public utility property without authorization is considered a class D felony. The consequences for a class D felony under the Iowa Code includes:

  • A fine between $750 and $7,500
  • A prison sentence of up to five years 

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Additional Resources

Prison Activist Resource Center – Visit the official site for the Prison Activist Resource Center to learn more about mass incarceration, the long-term effects it has had on society, and what you can do to battle the U.S.’s problem with recidivism.  

Trespassing Laws in Iowa – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about trespassing legislation. Access the site to learn the penalties, elements, defenses, and other related property crimes that are illegal in Iowa. 

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Defense Lawyer for Trespassing in Polk County, IA

If you or someone you know has been charged with trespassing in the West Des Moines area, it’s imperative you seek legal representation. Find excellent and experienced trespassing and property crime attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. Our attorneys have defended numerous people from the statutory penalties for trespassing and can do the same for you. Start your defense early by having our trusted legal team guide you.

Do what’s best for you and call us today at (515) 279-9700.  We offer services throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area in Iowa including Altoona, Ankeny, Perry, Minburn, De Soto, West Des Moines and Polk City.

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