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Can You Be Convicted for Trespassing in Your Home?

Published on Sep 7, 2016 by Thomas Law Offices.
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The answer to this question may surprise you. According to the Missouri Court of Appeals regarding State v. Hill, ED103396, yes, you can be convicted for trespassing—even if you are in your own home.

Frederick Hill III was residing in a mobile home which he owned with his girlfriend, Mary Vinson. In December of 2013, Ms. Vinson was granted an ex parte order of protection against Hill.  According to the order, Hill was ordered to not enter or stay upon the premises of his girlfriend’s residence, workplace, or school. The Order of Protection specifically listed the mobile home’s address as Ms. Vinson’s home address.

On the same day the order was issued, a Pike county deputy served and read the order on Hill at the mobile home. Hill was unaware that Ms. Vinson had obtained the order of protection and refused to leave, saying that he had not done anything wrong. After a standoff occurred between Hill and several officers who responded to the scene, Hill eventually relented and agreed to leave. Hill was then arrested for violating the order because he refused to leave the mobile home after the deputy read him the order. Hill was later convicted for a class B misdemeanor of trespass in the first degree.

When he appealed the conviction, Hill argued that the state could not charge him with trespassing in his own home. However, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction by looking to the plain language of the trespass statute. According to the court, the trespassing statute does not rule out that someone can be charged with trespassing on their own property if they have entered or remained upon it unlawfully.

Because the order of protection ordered Hill to stay off of Ms. Vinson’s premises, the court stated that Hill was in the mobile home unlawfully after he was read the order and refused to leave. The court stated that the legislature could have drafted the trespassing statute so that trespassing was only limited to situations where a person was unlawfully on another person’s land. However, the court pointed out, the statute does not say any such thing.

According to the court, the statute clearly allows trespassing to include situations where someone was unlawfully in his/her own home. In this case, the court found that because Hill remained in his own home after he was told he was there unlawfully, he was properly convicted of trespass in the first degree.

Trespassing and Premises Liability Laws in Missouri

As it stands right now, there is at least one Court of Appeals in Missouri that believes someone can be arrested for and convicted of trespass in his/her own home if that person is there unlawfully. Since the Court of Appeals relied on the language of the statute, it’s difficult to say whether another court would rule differently until the statute is changed.

Moral of the story: If you are unlawfully on your own property, you can be arrested and convicted of trespass in the first degree—at least in the state of Missouri.

Premises liability, as you can begin to see, can be a complicated subject. How do you know when someone shouldn’t be on your premises? When can you file a lawsuit against a property owner if you’ve been injured on their property? If you have any questions or think you potentially have a premises liability case on your hands, don’t hesitate to contact Thomas Law Offices. A skilled premises liability lawyer will go over your options.

Thomas Law Offices has a team of personal injury lawyers experienced in handling difficult cases. We can provide you with a zero-obligation case evaluation to discuss your case and circumstances. This gives you the freedom to do what’s right for you and your family. Give us a call today to learn more.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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