Trespass is a simple offence under Queensland law and carries a maximum penalty of one year of imprisonment or a 20 penalty unit fine. The offence can be committed in two different ways, either by trespassing upon a dwelling, or trespassing upon a business premises. Both offences are created by section 11 of the Summary Offences Act 2005:
- “A person must not unlawfully enter, or remain in, a dwelling or the yard for a dwelling. Maximum penalty 20 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.
- A person must not unlawfully enter, or remain in, a place used as a yard for, or a place used for, a business purpose. Maximum penalty 20 penalty units or 1 year’s imprisonment.”
In order to be convicted of trespass it must be proved that you:
- entered and/or remained in a dwelling or a place of business or the yard of a dwelling or a place of business, and
- you had no lawful right or justification to enter and/or remain there.
A dwelling, as the name might suggest, refers to any building which is used as a residence and would include such places as a house, a unit block or a caravan. A place of business might include locations such as a shop or office block or car yard.
What the Police Must Prove
In order for a prosecution for trespass to succeed, it does not need to be proved that you had any particular intent in entering the relevant place (for example that you intended to steal something or to cause damage to the place). All that needs to be proved is that your entry, or remaining, was without lawful excuse.
If you are questioned by police in relation to trespass they are obliged by law to give you an opportunity to explain why you were at, or why you entered, the relevant place. If you were not given an opportunity to explain your situation before being charged with trespass, you should obtain legal advice about your options to contest the charge.
Penalty for trespass
For a first offence you might expect a fine or even a release on a bond, particularly if your trespass was benign and did not involve any aggravating features (for example causing loss or damage). For repeat offences, or cases in which the trespass is more serious, it is not uncommon for heavier penalties such as community service and probation, or even imprisonment, to be imposed.
Can I Get a Ticket for Trespass?
No. A charge of trespass cannot be dealt with by an infringement notice. You are required to attend court if you have been charged with trespass.
Which Court Will Hear My Matter?
All trespass charges are heard in the Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.