OCGA Criminal Trespass: What You Need to Know

OCGA Criminal Trespass is a common offense and various defenses that is available to you in many states, including the state of Georgia. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) outlines the laws and penalties for criminal trespass, defining it as entering or remaining on someone else’s property without their consent. However, there are several factors and nuances that one should be aware of when it comes to understanding OCGA criminal trespass.

According to OCGA 16-7-21, criminal trespass occurs when a person enters or remains on another person’s land or property without permission. This includes private residences, businesses, and any other type of property where access is restricted by law.

To prove a violation under OCGA 16-7-21(c)(1), there are two essential elements that must be met: intent and notice. Intent refers to knowingly entering or remaining on the property without authorization from the owner or occupant. Notice means that the alleged offender was aware that they were on someone else’s property unlawfully.

Definition of Criminal Trespass Under OCGA

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) is the primary source for criminal law in the state of Georgia. Among the many offenses outlined in OCGA, one of the most common and significant is criminal trespass. This offense can have serious consequences and it’s important to understand its definition under OCGA.

According to OCGA §16-7-21, a person commits criminal trespass when they knowingly and without authority enter someone else’s property or refuse to leave after being told to do so by the owner or authorized personnel. It’s also considered criminal trespass if a person enters onto public property that has been marked with signs prohibiting entry.

It’s worth noting that intent plays a crucial role in determining whether an individual has committed criminal trespass. That means that, in order to be charged with this offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally entered onto another person’s property without permission.

Types of Criminal Trespass

There are several different types of criminal trespass listed under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA). Each one has its own set of criteria and consequences, so it is important to understand them all in order to avoid unintentionally breaking the law.

Simple Trespass:

This is the most common type of criminal trespass and occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission, regardless of whether they caused any damage. This can include entering a fenced yard, climbing over a gate, or ignoring “No Trespassing” signs. Simple trespass is considered a misdemeanor offense and can result in fines and/or jail time.

Aggravated Trespass:

This type of criminal trespass is more serious than simple trespass and involves entering or remaining on someone else’s property with the intent to commit another crime such as theft or vandalism. It may also involve using threats or force to enter the property. Aggravated trespass is considered a felony offense and carries harsher penalties than simple trespass.

Criminal Trespass-Damage:

As the name suggests, this type of criminal trespass occurs when a person damages property while unlawfully entering or remaining on someone else’s land or structure. The damage can be intentional or accidental but must have occurred during the commission of another crime such as burglary or arson.

Criminal Trespass-Restraint:

This form of criminal trespass involves restraining someone against their will on their own property without consent from the owner. It can also occur if someone refuses to leave after being asked by the owner or if they come back onto the property within 30 days after being removed for loitering.

Criminal Damage-Tampering With Property:

Similar to criminal trespass-damage, this offense involves causing harm to another person’s property intentionally and without their consent. However, in this case, there does not need to be an associated act of trespass.

It is important to note that in all cases of criminal trespass, the property owner’s consent or lack thereof is a significant factor. If the owner has given permission for someone to be on their property, it cannot be considered trespassing. Additionally, if the property is open to the public or there is no clear indication that entry without permission is prohibited, it may not constitute as criminal trespass.

Knowing and understanding the different types of criminal trespass can help individuals avoid breaking the law and facing potential consequences. It is always best to obtain proper permission before entering someone else’s property to prevent any misunderstandings or legal implications.

Penalties for Criminal Trespass Conviction

Criminal trespass is considered a serious offense under the Georgia Code, and the penalties for conviction can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. It is important to understand these penalties in order to fully grasp the severity of this crime and take necessary precautions to avoid committing it.

In general, criminal trespass falls under two main categories – misdemeanor and felony. Misdemeanor charges are typically imposed for less severe cases, while felony charges are reserved for more serious offenses. Let’s take a closer look at each category and its corresponding penalties.

Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass:

Under OCGA §16-7-21, first-degree misdemeanor criminal trespass occurs when an individual enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission or consent. This charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.

On the other hand, second-degree misdemeanor criminal trespass (OCGA §16-7-22) involves entering or remaining on another person’s land after being notified by signs or personal communication that such entry was forbidden. The penalty for this offense is up to six months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $500.

Felony Criminal Trespass:

As per OCGA §16-7-23, first-degree felony criminal trespass occurs when an individual violates certain court orders or restraining orders by entering or remaining on specified property without authorization. This charge carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.

It is evident that Georgia takes criminal trespass seriously and imposes varying degrees of penalties depending on the severity of the offense. It is crucial to understand and abide by the laws outlined in OCGA §16-7-21 through 25 in order to avoid facing such consequences. If you are facing charges for criminal trespass or have been accused falsely, seeking legal counsel from an experienced attorney can greatly help fight your case and reduce potential penalties.

Defenses Against a Criminal Trespass Charge

When facing a criminal trespass charge in Georgia, it is crucial to understand the various defenses that may be available to you. These defenses can help you avoid conviction or minimize the potential penalties for a criminal trespass charge under OCGA 16-7-21.

Lack of Intent

One of the primary elements of a criminal trespass offense is intent. If you did not knowingly enter or remain on someone else’s property without permission, then you may have a strong defense against a criminal trespass charge. For example, if you genuinely believed that there was no restriction on your entry onto the property or that you had permission from the owner to enter, this could serve as evidence of lack of intent.

Mistake of Fact

Similarly, if there was confusion over whether or not you had permission to be on the property, this could also serve as a defense. For instance, if you accidentally entered onto private land while hiking and were unaware of its boundaries due to poor signage or unclear markings, this mistake of fact could make it difficult for prosecutors to prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt.


Consent from the owner or person with authority over the property serves as a complete defense against criminal trespass charges in Georgia. As long as it can be proven that consent was given freely and voluntarily, without fear or duress, then any alleged unauthorized entry will no longer qualify as illegal.

Lack of Notice

In some cases, property owners may fail to provide adequate notice prohibiting individuals from entering their premises without permission. Under OCGA 16-7-21(b)(1), signs must be clearly posted at all entrances announcing that entry is prohibited in order for visitors who do not meet certain criteria (such as being law enforcement) to be charged with trespassing.

Voluntary Withdrawal 

If an individual enters onto another’s land without actual knowledge that they were doing something wrong and then voluntarily leaves upon learning that they were unauthorized, it may serve as a defense to criminal trespass. For example, if someone enters onto their neighbor’s property to retrieve a lost item but then realizes their mistake and immediately leaves once notified by the owner or law enforcement, this could be considered voluntary withdrawal.

It is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing a criminal trespass charge in Georgia. They can thoroughly review the details of your case and determine which defenses may be applicable in your particular situation. With the right legal representation, you may be able to successfully fight the charges against you and avoid serious consequences.

Understanding the Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Trespassing

Trespassing is a common criminal offense that occurs when an individual enters or stays on someone else’s property without their permission. However, not all types of trespassing are considered equal in the eyes of the law. Depending on the circumstances and severity of the actions, an individual can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony trespassing.

Misdemeanor trespassing is typically considered a less serious offense compared to felony trespassing. It involves entering or remaining on another person’s property without their consent, but without causing any harm or damage. This type of trespassing is often seen as a minor violation and carries less severe penalties.

What constitutes as misdemeanor trespassing may vary from state to state, but it generally includes entering fenced-in commercial or residential properties, staying in abandoned buildings, or being in unauthorized areas of public facilities such as parks and schools.

It is crucial to understand the difference between misdemeanor and felony trespassing to be aware of the potential legal consequences that come with each offense. It’s also important to remember that each case is unique and may have different circumstances that can affect the outcome. Seeking legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney is always recommended in these situations.

Common Scenarios and Examples of OCGA Criminal Trespassing Cases

Criminal trespassing is a serious offense that can result in significant legal consequences. In the state of Georgia, criminal trespassing is defined by the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) as knowingly and without authority entering or remaining on someone else’s property after being given notice not to do so. This could include entry into a building, dwelling, or any other structure, as well as land and vehicles.

There are various scenarios where an individual may find themselves facing charges for criminal trespassing under OCGA. One common scenario is when someone enters a private property without permission from the owner. For instance, if you walk onto someone’s land or enter their home despite having been explicitly told not to do so by the owner, you could be charged with criminal trespassing.

Another example would be when an individual refuses to leave a business establishment after being asked to do so by the owner or authorized personnel. This includes situations where individuals become disruptive or destructive inside establishments such as stores, restaurants, or entertainment venues.

An increasingly common example of criminal trespassing under OCGA involves unauthorized entry into government buildings or facilities. With heightened security measures in place in public buildings across the country, individuals attempting to gain access without proper authorization may face criminal trespassing charges.

Shafiq Ch

Shafiq Ch is SEO service provider and writer at NCVLE (New Citizens Viability Law Enforcement). He discusses SEO, guest posts, backlinks, and on-page content issues. He is helping lawyers to rank their sites on the top pages of SERPs.

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