I’ve been charged with “trespass”. What does this mean?
It is an offence to unlawfully enter, or remain in, a dwelling or the yard of a dwelling. This applies to both domestic dwellings and those places used for a business purpose.
In order to successfully prove this charge the police will be required to satisfy the court, beyond reasonable doubt, that:
- You entered or remained on property; and
- This property was a private or business “dwelling” or the “yard of a dwelling”; and
- You did not have lawful excuse, authorisation or justification to be on that property.
A “dwelling” includes a boat, caravan or tent when it is being used as a dwelling.
What penalty will I be given if I plead or am found guilty of “trespass”?
The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 penalty units (a maximum of $2,356.00) or 1 year imprisonment. While the legislation sets out the maximum penalties for offences, when deciding what penalty should be imposed in each individual case the court is required to take in to account the nature of the offence, your unique personal circumstances and any criminal history.
To get a better idea of the penalties that a court might impose in your case it will be necessary for a solicitor to discuss your matter with you and gain a better understanding of your circumstances.
Our solicitors have extensive experience in this area and will be able to assist you in making sure you get the best result when your charge is finalised. For more information on factors that courts will consider when deciding your penalty see our sentencing page.
Are there any defences to this charge?
There are a number of defences a person may be able to raise, depending on the circumstances of the charge. Some of these include:
- That you were not actually on the property in question.
- That you were not on the property “unlawfully” because of some authorisation or lawful excuse.
- That there was a mistake of fact.
If you believe you may be able to raise a defence in your circumstances we advise you to arrange to meet with a solicitor to discuss your options when dealing with this charge.
Do I have any other options?
In some circumstances your matter may be appropriate for referral to Justice Mediation.
This is a process in which you and the complainant attend a meeting organised by an independent third party to discuss the incident and the impact it has had on the complainant.
An important part of this mediation is discussing how you can make amends for your behaviour. This might involve the payment of money to the complainant.
Often when the justice mediation process is successful the prosecutor will discontinue the court proceedings against you.
Your matter must be referred to Justice Mediation by either the court or the Police Prosecution Corp. The complainant and police must agree to participate in the process.
A benefit of having a solicitor is that, in appropriate matters, they are able to effectively negotiate with the court and prosecutors to convince them to have a matter referred to this process.
How will lawyers help me with my trespass charge?
There are a number of benefits to engaging a lawyer to act for you on your trespass charge. Our solicitors are highly experienced in these matters and can provide you with:
- Expert advice about the strength of the prosecution’s case and your prospects of successfully fighting the charge.
- A representative who can attend court on your behalf (and save you from having to attend and speak for yourself on every court date).
- Years of experience in successfully negotiating with prosecution on our clients’ charges.
- An experienced court room advocate who can effectively present your case and submit to the court relevant, persuasive information designed to minimise your penalty.