Juvenile’s Conviction Reversed in Miami Appeals Court

The Third District Court of Appeals recently reversed a minor’s conviction of trespassing in Miami-Dade County based on the defense attorney’s assertion that the prosecution had failed to prove that the child ever entered the property.

In this case, the juvenile who is identified only as C.P. was “horsing around” with his friend on a lot, which contained a vacant mobile home. The mobile home was not located on a piece of private property, therefore the criminal offense of trespassing is defined by the child’s entry into the mobile home, and not the land surrounding the mobile home.

For an unknown reason the youth picked up a metal bar that was lying around the home and “applied” it to the mobile home’s door. However, before the youth had an opportunity to enter the property, a neighbor yelled and the boys ran away. There was no motive for entering the property and it is plausible that this was simply the inconsiderate act of a young boy. Nevertheless, the State charged the boys with attempted burglary, criminal mischief, trespassing and possession of burglary tools.

The boy’s criminal defense attorney prevailed upon the court not to find that an attempted burglary was committed as the State failed to prove the requisite intent to commit a crime. However, the court did find that a trespass occurred. The appeal followed.

A trespass occurs when and uninvited person enters upon a piece of private property. Nevertheless, the person must actually enter upon that property. In the case discussed here, the youth merely approached it only to be scared off by a neighbor. So, the attempt was defeated before it could take root and become a crime. This is what Justices Gersten, Rothenberg, and Slater concluded in their opinion delivered in Miami on July 1, 2011. The District Court reversed the trespass conviction and instead substituted an attempted trespassing charge. The children were also convicted of criminal mischief for the damage committed to the door and possession of burglary tools.