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Breaking Into a Boat: Criminal Trespass or Second Degree Burglary in Colorado?

Posted by Kyle B. Sawyer | Oct 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Sometimes, people want to see what it would be like to be in someone else's shoes – perhaps the shoes of an actor, a musician or even a politician. For two young adults, their idea of living in someone else's shoes was different. Apparently, they broke into a boat while a family of five was sleeping on board. The two people were enjoying themselves – eating fast food and taking selfies. Their moment of fun soon ended when their camera flash awoke the family. The two adults ran off. To track them down, police used their receipt inside of a fast food bag. In Denver County and Arapahoe County, would the adults face charges of Second Degree Criminal Trespass or Second Degree Burglary? Let's continue reading.

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What is Second Degree Criminal Trespass in Douglas County?

Second Degree Criminal Trespass, C.R.S. 18-4-503, is charged in Douglas and Adams County, and across Colorado whenever someone:

1.Unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the premises of another which are enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or are fenced; or

2.Knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in or upon the common areas of a hotel, motel, condominium, or apartment building; or

3.Knowingly and unlawfully enters or remains in a motor vehicle of another.

2nd Degree Criminal Trespass is a class 3 misdemeanor, but it can be charged as a:

Class 2 misdemeanor

If the premises have been classified by the county assessor for the county in which the land is situated as agricultural land pursuant to section 39-1-102(1.6), C.R.S.

Class 4 felony

If the person trespasses on premises so classified as agricultural land with the intent to commit a felony thereon.

What is Second Degree Burglary in Jefferson County Colorado?

Second Degree Burglary, C.R.S. 18-4-203, is charged in Jefferson and El Paso County whenever someone breaks an entrance into, enters unlawfully in, or remains unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry in a building or occupied structure with intent to commit therein a crime against another person or property. The most important distinction between Burglary and Trespass is whether someone intended to commit a crime after unlawfully entering or remaining in or upon certain property. Second Degree Burglary is a class 4 felony, but it's a class 3 felony if it's a burglary of a dwelling, or if it's a burglary where the objective is the theft of a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102(5), lawfully kept within any building or occupied structure.

Breaking into the Boat: Second Degree Burglary or 2nd Degree Criminal Trespass in Denver?

Would breaking into the boat unlawfully be considered Burglary, or Trespass?

With all of this information in mind, would the adults' actions lead to criminal charges of Trespassing or Burglary in Denver? Since the two adults were eating food and taking pictures after breaking into the boat, they likely wouldn't face charges of Second Degree Burglary. A Denver District Attorney would have to prove they had intent to commit a crime (such as Theft or Criminal Mischief) against another person or property after entering and remaining unlawfully on the boat. That leaves Second Degree Criminal Trespass. This statute's definition (taken as a whole) makes me wonder what the boat is considered: it's not the “premises” (18-4-504.5) of another, nor is it a hotel, motel, condo or apartment. That leaves a motor vehicle. According to 18-1-901, a motor vehicle is:

“Any self-propelled device by which persons or property may be moved, carried, or transported from one place to another by land, water, or air, except devices operated on rails, tracks, or cables fixed to the ground or supported by pylons, towers, or other structures.”

I think we can all agree a boat is a self-propelled device that can transport people or property from one place to another by water. So, it's likely the adults would face charges of Second Degree Criminal Trespass for knowingly and unlawfully entering and remaining upon the motor vehicle of another.

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Hopefully, you've learned more about the law of Trespassing and Burglary from this discussion. If you have been charged with Second Degree Criminal Trespass or Second Degree Burglary in Colorado, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact us at 303-830-0880 for a free consultation. Together, we can protect your future.Request a Free Consultation

Image Credit: – Pansa

About the Author

Kyle B. Sawyer

I have a passion for defending others in criminal cases. I am able to empathize with my clients and understand their emotions and fears. I have a unique perspective on the criminal justice system and I understand what it feels like to be wrongly accused of a crime.


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