There are some grey areas when it comes to a criminal trespass case. It can be difficult in some scenarios to know whether you are in the right or in the wrong. Also, the law on criminal trespass evolves as more and more criminal trespass cases are appealed. Below are a few criminal trespass cases that have been appealed and serve to help clarify the law on criminal trespass. 

CITY OF LINDSBORG, v. Joseph HULSE233 P.3d 767  This case involved a recently divorced couple living in separate residences. The female was in possession of the marital home even though both parties still owned the marital home. The male contacted the female and requested to come over to the marital home. She denied the request. The male came over to the marital home anyway and knocked on the door to try to gain entry. The female denied him entry. The male got into the home through a window. Eventually law enforcement arrived as the male was exiting the home. The court held that the defendant was guilty of criminal trespass even though evidence was presented that the male had an ownership interest in the home.

CITY OF WICHITA,  v. Jeff W. BANNON42 Kan.App.2d 196  Defendant committed criminal trespass in violation of Wichita ordinance § 5.66.050 where he entered the “dealers only” section of an auction facility for licensed auto dealers to buy and sell used cars after being told repeatedly not to. Under the Wichita statute, the Court determined it was not necessary for the defendant to be ordered off the entire premises with instructions not to return; it was enough that business owner ordered defendant off the private area. Because the business owner has the right to distinguish between public and private places within his facility, it was sufficient for criminal trespass in this case that defendant entered the private area despite the area being clearly marked and him being repeatedly told not to enter by the owner’s authorized representative.

STATE of Kansas, v. Charles K. BURHANS277 Kan. 858  Defendant bail bondsman attempted to enter house based on listing of the house as bailee’s address in the application for bail bond paperwork. This was in spite of not having the real bond, not consulting a title or utilities bill to verify, and finding that bailee never worked at the company he listed as his employer. Upon arrival at the house, defendant attempted to enter on pretense of installing a house security system. After announcing his real intent, defendant was asked to leave by owner of the house, bailee’s sister. Defendant returned to his vehicle, called the police to ask for courtesy standby, and was refused standy. Defendant began to walk up the driveway with a can of mace and a handgun towards sister’s husband. Based on these facts, there was sufficient evidence to support defendant bail bondsman’s conviction of criminal trespass.

The Court looked to case law from other jurisdictions to determine that the bail bondman’s privilege was not a sufficient excuse for defendant’s reentry of premises after being asked to leave by the sister where: bailee did not live at sister’s property, had not been observed there, and bailee’s car (or other evidence of his presence) was not observed there. Defendant’s due process rights to notice that his conduct was criminal was not violated because the trespass statute has been in effect for decades and the Court was unable to find case law from any jurisdiction that would’ve justified defendant’s conduct in this case.

CITY OF WICHITA, v. Mark HOLICK151 P.3d 864  Defendant’s conviction of criminal trespass was affirmed where, despite passing privacy fence and clearly marked “no trespassing” sign, a security guard’s telling him he was trespassing and needed to leave, and police ordering him to leave, defendant refused to leave parking lot of women’s health center. The Court affirmed that the necessity defense is “inapplicable to defendant against criminal conduct perpetrated to prevent a constitutional or legal right of another.” In coming to this conclusion, the Court relied on cases City of Wichita v. Tilson, and United States v. Turner, in coming to the decision that Defendant was precluded from bringing necessity defense where he could not prove illegal abortions were taking place, he could only demonstrate a tangential relationship between his conduct and prevention of harm, and he failed to exhaust legal alternatives. This was despite defendant’s moral belief that abortions occurring within the women’s health center were the “greater evil.”

STATE of Kansas, v. Antonio Michael CLAYTER  334 P.3d 910  Defendant entered campus dorms despite a disciplinary hearing having revoked his access to the campus. He was arrested for criminal trespass after being discovered by a security officer under his girlfriend’s bed in the dorms. However, there was insufficient evidence to support defendant’s conviction of criminal trespass under K.S.A. 21-5808 because the prosecution failed to provide evidence supporting their mid-trial oral amendment of the criminal trespassing count that defendant “was given a direct order by the owner of the property not to return to the property.” (emphasis in original). The State failed to commit the oral amendment into writing, and was thus bound by the oral amendment. Because the State provided no evidence that the person revoking the defendant’s access to campus was the owner of the property or someone with an ownership interest, the defendant’s criminal trespass conviction was reversed.

Clifford CORMIER, d/b/a Cormier Retail Liquor Store, v. KANSAS DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE  235 P.3d 1268  Defendant owner of liquor store was fined and cited for selling liquor to an individual under 21 in violation of K.A.R. 14–13–13(n) after ABC Enforcement agent and underage cooperating individual conducted a controlled buy in his store. Defendant appealed based on claim that the underage individual committed criminal trespass because he entered despite the sign on the store’s front door prohibiting anyone under 21 from entering the store. Appeal was denied because the legislature had enacted provisions specifically authorizing the Director of ABC to inspect premises where alcohol is sold and specifically authorizing controlled buys.

THE STATE of Kansas, v. Ozell POUNCIL, Jr.  106 P.3d 1161  Based on co-defendant’s testimony, defendant and co-defendant entered SEK Grain Facility (SEK) to obtain anhydrous ammonia. After an unsuccessful attempt resulted in an anhydrous ammonia leak and defendant receiving a burn from the ammonia, defendant arrested for criminal trespass, among other charges. However, evidence was insufficient to support defendant’s conviction of criminal trespass on SEK because the State did not present evidence to demonstrate that SEK had signage informing people not to enter. Relying on K.S.A. 21-3721 and State v. Burhans, the State was required to show that property was “signed” (had a reasonably visible sign on the property informing persons not to enter the property). Where SEK was apparently not fenced off and the only evidence about signage presented by the State was an ambiguous response by SEK employee that the State made no attempt to clarify, the Court determined that there was insufficient evidence to support defendant’s criminal trespass conviction.

STATE of Kansas, v. James Delton JACKSON, III   227 P.3d 1010  After moving out of his girlfriend’s house, defendant was told by a law enforcement officer not to return. After an incident where defendant and girlfriend fought and she told him to leave, defendant returned to girlfriend’s apartment multiple times in the next few days. Defendant argued that he had authorization to be in his girlfriend’s home for the visits after they fought based on instances before the fight where defendant entered and stayed at girlfriend’s house with her permission. Defendant’s criminal trespass conviction was affirmed because a rational factfinder could find that girlfriend had revoked defendant’s authorization to return to her property. Girlfriend’s statements at trial that “my back door was always open for [defendant]” didn’t change the affirmation of the conviction because there was enough other evidence presented to contradict defendant’s authority to be in girlfriend’s house after they fought.

STATE of Kansas, v. Robert David SOULIA   2016 WL 2942362  Although defendant had been allowed to stay at his parents’ home off-and-on, mother banned defendant from reentering house based on defendant’s violation of several of her conditions. Defendant’s first criminal trespass conviction was based on the facts that ten days later, defendant asked to be let in but became angry and threatening when he was refused entry. Defendant’s second criminal trespass conviction was based on defendant’s attempt the next day to pry open a window of the house.

Defendant appealed two counts of criminal trespass based on insufficiency of evidence that defendant entered his mother’s “residence,” as stipulated in the jury instructions. This Court found that the jury instructions were more limited than the charging document where the word “residence” was used in the jury instructions as opposed to the word “premises” used in the charging document. Basing their reasoning on Musacchio v. United States, this Court upheld the criminal trespass convictions because it was not unfair to the defendant where the allegations were narrower than the charging document and the defendant had prepared his defense based on the broader allegations in the charging document.

STATE of Kansas, v. Brenda CASELBERRY   120 P.3d 381  Defendant’s criminal trespass conviction was based on altercation where the defendant while walking on owner’s driveway as a shortcut despite “no trespassing sign” posted at beginning of drive, continued to walk forward on the driveway after owner told defendant to stop. The Court affirmed her criminal trespass conviction because the fact that the “no trespassing” sign was not in accordance with K.S.A.2004 Supp. 21-3721 was irrelevant because defendant was told orally by owner to get off the property. Additionally unconvincing, defendant presented no authority to support her contention that the owner was obligated to let defendant continue the trespass to let defendant complete her shortcut.

STATE of Kansas, v. David A. WADE  95 P.3d 1042  At trial, defendant was convicted of criminal trespass based on testimony that defendant entered owner’s rented home without consent, the house had been locked up, and defendant had no ownership interest in the home. On appeal defendant appealed his criminal trespass conviction based on insufficient evidence but merely asked this Court to weight the credibility of the witnesses. As this is the function of the trial court not the appellate court, this Court affirmed the conviction.

State of KANSAS, v. Marvin MATT  324 P.3d 1153  While attempting to serve defendant with “trespassing notice,” Recreation Center employee called the police to determine defendant’s name. Police arrived, defendant gave a false name, and left the building. Suspicious of the name defendant gave, the police gave chase. Although defendant was charged with criminal trespass, he was found not guilty on that count.