In Florida, any person who goes onto property without authorization, or after having been warned not to be on the property, may be subject to a trespass charge. Trespass is usually a misdemeanor in Florida, however it can be a felony if the trespasser is armed with a gun or other dangerous weapon. Florida also has a special trespass statute for schools. The Florida school trespass statute deals with anyone who has no business being on school grounds and any student who has been suspended or expelled. A person who has been suspended who goes back to the school for some reason, without authorization, can be arrested for trespass.
Some schools take this statute perhaps too seriously. In a school trespass case near Jacksonville, Florida, a middle school student was sent to the principal’s office for unruly behavior. The principal suspended the student immediately and told him to wait in the office until his mother came to pick him up. The student left the office at some point to hang out in the school courtyard. When school officials saw the student in the courtyard, police were called and he was arrested for trespass.
The criminal defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss the trespass charge. The defense attorney argued that the student could not be guilty of trespass because he was authorized to be on school property, in the office, until his mother arrived. The court disagreed. A property owner can limit access to the property to certain places on the property. If the person violates that limited access, he can be properly arrested for trespass.
Therefore, in school trespass cases, as in all trespass cases, authorization to be on someone’s property is a defense to a trespass charge as long as the person is on the specific part of the property that is authorized.