Question: Is it a crime for someone to keep coming to my home or work if I have repeatedly told them not to?
Answer: Assuming that the person has no lawful business to conduct at the home or workplace of another, then the person may be committing a trespass, which is a crime listed within the Texas Penal Code.
A trespass is the unlawful entry, or entry without consent, upon the property of another. The Texas Penal Code, Chapter 30, Section 30.05 Criminal Trespass states, “A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person: had notice that the entry was forbidden; or received notice to depart but failed to do so.”
People seem to have difficulty with the “notice” requirement of the statute. According to Texas law, “notice” means both oral or written communication not to enter the premises. That literally means that all a person must do is “tell” someone not to come to their home or work. That could be a problem under certain circumstances. For instance, if “work” is a place such as a grocery store, then keeping out one specific individual may require more than oral notice. It may require a court order that states that the person may not enter at times that the complaining party is present. Imagine a scenario where a person is forbidden from entering a grocery store. When or how would they buy groceries?
The problem with oral notice is that the person who is committing the trespass does not take it seriously, and believes that merely being told to stay away has no legal bearing. If a trespass is a continual problem, the complaining party should send written notice to the trespasser not to come around. If that doesn’t help, a person may seek assistance from local authorities to issue a criminal trespass warning to the trespasser. If the trespasser violates the criminal trespass warning, they may be subject to arrest and prosecution.
If the place that the trespasser continues to enter is a business or work environment, written notice is definitely a better choice. The notice should include the name and address of the complaining party, and all places that the trespasser does not have consent to enter. Now imagine that the work environment is a small one-man office. The trespasser’s presence could pose a true belief that harm may result. Having a copy of a written notice on hand may assist the complaining party should further legal action be necessary to obtain relief.
Although written notice is not required, it is prudent. It may be taken seriously by the trespasser, whereas, oral, or spoken notice may be ignored. Why a person is not welcome is not relevant and does not need to be included in the notice. It’s not necessary or required to state, “You bug me,” or “I can’t stand you,” for the notice to be valid. As a matter of fact, the notice should remain as professional as possible so to avoid additional problems. Most people retaliate when they are insulted, even if the insult is well deserved. Keeping the notice short and to the point, “Please accept this letter as written notice that if you enter onto my property you are trespassing…” is sufficient.
This article is meant for informational purposes only and not as a substitute for sound legal advice. Please direct questions to Ask the Lawyer to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Facebook page for the Dalhart Texan.