An Austin woman from West spoke to FOX 7 Austin on Monday about her experience with a trespasser who wouldn’t leave her front yard. In light of this, we’ll explain what you should do in a circumstance like this and what the trespassing rules in Texas are.
What happened to Texas resident Deleon?
Kimberley DeLeon was inside her house three weeks ago when a stranger knocked on her door. DeLeon admitted, “I truly got terrified out. “He was looking at the window at me.”
She instructed him to exit through the door, therefore Sam Bassett, a criminal defense lawyer in Austin, Texas said that at that point he was unlawfully invading.
“It’s not always criminal trespass to approach the front door of a house on the street from the sidewalk. However, once you are informed that entering the property is prohibited, you must leave immediately, otherwise, you will be charged with criminal trespass ” Bassett added.
Nevertheless, the man waited in front of DeLeon’s door for thirty minutes. DeLeon recalled that the man “sat down on the steps, started shaking his head, and paced back and forth.”
DeLeon dialed 911, but the police told her they couldn’t force him to leave because he was technically no longer on her property but was still a few feet from her house when they arrived. She claims that when the police did finally remove him, it was only because he gave his consent.
“They can’t do anything about it as long as he’s in an area he’s allowed to be in,” said Austin, Texas resident DeLeon, “as long as he’s standing on the boundary of the land and not actually committing criminal trespass when they notice him.”
However, Bassett asserts that if you’re dealing with someone like this, you do have a few options.
“Theoretically, she could swear an affidavit, after which they could use it to obtain a warrant for his arrest. But it all takes time” Bassett added.
According to Bassett, having a doorbell camera like the DeLeon can offer valuable audio and visual evidence.
“She could just claim, “I told him to go and he’s sitting on my stoop,” but the police and the prosecutor usually prefer something that can be more credibly proven. However, they will make an arrest if there have been multiple occurrences or if you have extremely strong, independent documentation of the notification.”
You can also read- Understaffed Austin PD Telling Public to Collect Evidence Themselves
What can Texas people do to restrict illegal trespassing?
According to Bassett, Texans can also automatically give notice by posting a “No Trespassing” sign or giving written notice to a particular neighbor they want to stay away from. After giving notice, homeowners are permitted to use force to evict a person from their property, but not lethal force. Additionally, if it keeps happening, it might be more than just trespassing.
“There are other statutes that may apply if someone is harassing you in Austin, Texas out of animosity or if they have a personal grudge against you. Harassment is a separate type of infraction that is defined as persistent behavior with the purpose to annoy, alarm, or frighten you” as per Bassett.