Criminal trespassing is divided into separate categories in Colorado, with the least serious trespassing defense being a petty misdemeanor, and the most being a Class 4 felony (the fourth most serious type of felony, out of five possible felony categories). Depending on the type of trespass committed, the offense can be a felony, or possibly a misdemeanor.
First Degree Criminal Trespass is defined in Colorado as when a “person knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a dwelling of another or if such person enters any motor vehicle with intent to commit a crime therein.” First Degree Criminal Trespass is a class 5 felony, and punishable by restitution and jail time. Because this is set out in the statute, we know that any conviction of first degree trespass will be a felony, but can second or third degree trespass be a felony as well?
Second Degree Criminal Trespass can be a felony in Colorado, subject to a certain set of conditions. Where an individual trespasses onto the premises of another which is designed in a manner so as to exclude intruders, or is fenced, and the land has been classified as agricultural land, and the person has entered the premises with the intent to commit a felony on the premises, then Second Degree Criminal Trespass is a Class 4 Felony. Felonies on agricultural land include several Colorado Hunting Violations such as destruction of wildlife and illegal sale of wildlife. Also included would be any felonies such as felony theft or felony menacing, as spelled out in Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. However, the State must prove that you had the intent to commit the felony when you committed the crime of second degree criminal trespass.
Additional Resources On Trespassing Laws for Hunters, Guides, and Outfitters
Third Degree Criminal Trespass can also be a felony in Colorado. A person commits Felony Second Degree Criminal Trespass where the individual enters or remains upon the premises of another and those premises are zoned as agricultural land and intends to commit a felony thereon. This is a Class 5 felony. Again, a variety of felonies qualify from Colorado Hunting and Fishing Violations to any crimes classified in the Colorado Criminal Code.
It is important to note the definition of the word “Premises” as used in these statutes. Often the common usage of the word premises denotes developed land, or that area around buildings or dwellings. However, the legal definition of premises for purposes of the criminal trespassing statutes of Second and Third Degree Criminal Trespassing “means real property, buildings, and other improvements thereon, and the stream banks and beds of any non-navigable fresh water streams flowing through such real property.”
For outdoorsmen and women, it is important to understand the kinds of charges that you face in these situations. The carve outs in the laws for premises that are agricultural land should be taken seriously when facing hunting and fishing violation charges in Colorado. If you are charged with First, Second, or Third Degree Criminal Trespass, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney. You could be facing prison time and a severe change of lifestyle if convicted of any felony charges. Colorado Hunting and Fishing Violation Lawyer Nathaniel Gilbert has helped sportsmen facing trespassing and felony charges and can help determine the best options going forward, if you have any defenses available to you, and be your advocate and representative. As an avid hunter and dedicated attorney, Nathaniel understands and knows how easy it can be to suddenly be in over your head and can help ease the burden you face.