Texas, like other states, has established “squatter’s rights.” Squatters are not trespassers, and they cannot be chased off the owner’s land as such. Squatter’s rights require a property owner to take certain steps to obtain a lawful eviction order in order to remove the person from his or her property. It is not always clear whether a person is a trespasser or a squatter.
If you are charged with trespassing when you actually have squatter’s rights, your case belongs in the housing court to deal with the eviction as a civil matter. The experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys at Granger and Mueller PC can help you fight trespassing charges.
The Difference Between a Trespasser and a Squatter
Both a trespasser and a squatter are staying on property without the owner’s permission. Neither will be allowed to continue occupying the property indefinitely (unless the squatter can claim adverse possession through a complicated civil proceeding). The difference is that trespassing is viewed as a criminal matter. The police will intervene to remove the trespasser, and the trespasser can end up with a criminal record as a result of the property dispute.
A squatter, on the other hand, is someone who has stayed on the land long enough to gain some property rights. This is usually a tenant who stayed longer than their lease, or someone who started staying on abandoned property. At this point, the police view this as a civil matter, and the dispute is settled in the housing court. The property owner must initiate formal eviction proceedings and get a court order in order to remove a squatter from their property.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Get Your Case Back to Civil Court
It is not always clear whether a person on the land is a trespasser or a squatter. Because of this, a squatter can face criminal charges for trespassing when their rights should really be adjudicated by a housing court. A defense lawyer can work with the prosecutor to prevent charges from being filed or to negotiate an appropriate plea deal to resolve the criminal trespassing charge. A defense lawyer may even have to take the case to trial to let a jury determine whether the defendant was a trespasser or a squatter.
Experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorneys For Trespassing Cases
The experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Granger and Mueller PC are here to defend your legal rights. We serve clients throughout the Austin area, and we fight hard to defend your constitutional rights at all stages of the criminal case process. In the case of trespassing charges, we work to keep your case out of the criminal court altogether, and send it back to the housing court where it belongs.
Visit our website or call (512) 474-9999 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys. The sooner you have an aggressive defense lawyer on your side, the better options your lawyer will have for achieving a fair resolution to the charges against you.