Trespassing on Jail Property?

This past weekend, a lady was released from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, SC, but wouldn’t leave…

She was originally arrested and jailed for… trespassing. After she was released over the weekend, she came back (or stayed) and was found wandering around in the detention center’s front parking lot and the employee parking lot.

She was asked to leave, asked if she needed help, and then put on trespass notice when she was not responsive to the officers. Later that night, they found her wandering in the employee’s parking lot again and arrested her for… trespassing.

Did They Really Have to Arrest Her Again?

From the description in the article, it sounds like she was in distress. Possibly suffering from mental illness or possibly intoxicated, but it sounds to me like she needed help, not handcuffs.

Could they have helped her to get to a mental health facility instead of putting back in a cage? Could they have found a shelter or some other place that could give her a place to stay temporarily while they figured out what she needs?

Trespass After Notice

There is no such thing as trespass in South Carolina – there is only “trespass after notice.”

The notice could be verbal, or it could be written. It could be a clearly posted sign that says, “no trespassing.” In the example of the jail trespasser above, the officers did warn her that she had to leave and gave her a trespass notice before they handcuffed her and charged her again.

If someone is walking across your property, you can’t just call the police and have them arrested for trespassing. In some cases, you can have the police issue a trespass notice, so they can be arrested and charged the next time. Or, you could just put a sign up that is clearly visible and warns people that they are trespassing if they continue onto the property.

Defenses to Trespass After Notice in SC

The first, obvious defense to trespass charges in SC is that you were not given notice before you were arrested and charged. Another common defense is that you had permission to be on the property – even if you were mistaken, jurors are not likely to convict you of trespassing if you believed you had the right to be there…

Many trespass charges arise from neighbor disputes. When tensions flare and neighbors can’t get along, it’s best to get help or seek mediation before things get out of hand. In some cases, magistrates and municipal judges understand and will actively participate in helping neighbors work out their disputes when they wind up in criminal court.

Other times, we can seek mediation or work out a solution before the court date to attempt to avoid a criminal conviction. When all else fails and if you have a clean record, pretrial diversion may be another option to avoid a trespassing conviction. In other cases, trial is the best or only option.

Your defenses and the possible outcomes will depend on the facts of the case and whether the alleged victim is willing to work things out without a conviction.

Trespass After Notice – Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

If you have been charged with trespass in the Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, or Horry County areas, contact Charleston criminal defense attorney Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or by filling out our online contact form.