College life is known for its adventurous spirit. This is a time when students explore new horizons and experiences. However, the same spirit may lead to students knowingly or unknowingly crossing legal boundaries. This action may potentially result in criminal trespassing charges and, in some cases, burglary.
Criminal trespass: Know the boundaries
Trespassing is when you enter someone else’s property or their vehicle without their permission. It becomes more legally complex if you end up causing damage. In the context of college, you could be charged with trespassing if:
- You enter a dorm without proper permission.
- You secretly accessed restricted or closed campus areas. Usually, these are construction sites and laboratories.
- You climb school fences or sneak into sports stadiums or fields during games or events without a valid ticket or authorization.
- You attend a party or a gathering without the property owner’s consent.
- You participate in a campus protest that involves students entering restricted areas.
If you find yourself on someone else’s property without permission or stay there after being explicitly told to leave, you could be charged with criminal trespass.
Penalties for criminal trespass
Georgia law considers criminal trespass as a misdemeanor. If you are found guilty, you could deal with these consequences:
- You might spend up to one year in jail.
- You could be required to pay a fine of as much as $1,000.
It is crucial to note that criminal trespass convictions, including a criminal record, can have lasting consequences. Getting a record may impact future employment opportunities and other aspects of a student’s life.
Distinguishing from burglary: Intent matters
Conversely, college students are far less likely to commit burglary compared to criminal trespass. Burglary entails a more serious level of wrongdoing, like theft, and is not common among college students due to the strict security on campuses.
Unlike criminal trespass, burglary means going into someone else’s place with the plan to steal or commit a crime. It comes with harsher punishments in Georgia. Not all students get involved in these actions, but peer pressure, campus rules and personal decisions can affect the chances of such incidents happening.
While criminal trespass involves unauthorized entry for unlawful purposes other than theft or a felony, burglary revolves around illegal entry with criminal intent. Understanding the difference is crucial for college students to stay within the bounds of the law in Georgia.