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Are trespassing charges worth the hassle?
June 13, 2013 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Help us decide if girlfriend and I should press trespassing charges against girlfriend's father, and how to do it.

Yesterday my girlfriend and I had an altercation with her father, at our apartment leased by girlfriend. There's lots of backstory (isn't there always!) but the gist is that at one point yesterday she opened the door to tell him to leave and he pushed past her into our apartment demanding money and refusing to leave. He did not hit or harm anyone, and nothing was damaged. We finally got him out and things were mostly taken care of hours later. But of course, when he was screaming and yelling, I called the cops. And when they were physically at the apartment afterwards taking down our info, we were asked if we wanted to press trespassing charges.

Now, he's hopefully being kicked out of the house he shared with his wife, girlfriend's mom. He should be out of our lives and their lives. She says she's finally filing for divorce. Obviously the main person involved is girlfriend's mom, not us. But, regardless, is filing a trespassing a good idea for us? I know the obvious, it'll be on record against him. But we don't want to have to see him in court. We know it obviously won't be able to keep him from doing the exact same thing if he wanted to. We don't even know what it really entails.

We're in Kansas, if it helps. Also, the apartment is solely in her name, I just live there off the lease. This is about what she should do technically I know, but please forgive the 'we'.

Hope us?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total)
 
If it were me, I'd just go get an anti-harassment order. And also ask if your landlord can get the police to serve an admonishment on him not to trespass at the building property. And, lastly, warn him that if he does it again, you will pursue criminal charges.
posted by bearwife at 3:21 PM on June 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I believe it's appropriate to note here that people don't file charges, the State prosecutor files charges. The State prosecutor can choose to file charges regardless of your interest in the matter or disinterest in the matter. "Pressing charges" is really a misnomer, as the matter is, strictly speaking, out of your hands from a legal perspective. Regardless of what you choose to do, you should be prepared for charges to be filed or not filed. The State does not require your consent to prosecute.

He did not hit or harm anyone, and nothing was damaged.

That'd be enough for me not to continue with the issue. Her dad is gone. Don't let her dad back into your apartment. Meet him in a neutral location where you can easily leave if you ever want to talk to him again. Clearly, you aren't interested much in dealing with him - so don't. It's highly likely that a criminal case will only result in more interaction with him, since the right to face one's accuser is integral to the legal system.
posted by saeculorum at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


You got the police report in; that's the most relevant part of it for purposes of obtaining future protection and/or pressing charges next time. I'd definitely apply for a restraining order if he generally tends to show respect to authority. Some people seem to take the things as an excuse to go mess with the person under protection, so.

Never, ever, ever, ever assume a scary person is "out of our lives" or that a person is actually going to follow through on a divorce filing against a scary person, however. I know this bit of advice is repeated every six or seven minutes around here, but: read The Gift of Fear. It's definitely at your local library, and you can get it used for like $6 with shipping.
posted by SMPA at 3:58 PM on June 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Regardless of what you choose to do, you should be prepared for charges to be filed or not filed. The State does not require your consent to prosecute.

While this is technically correct, no prosecutor is going to file trespassing charges if the person whose property was trespassed on doesn't want them to.
posted by atrazine at 4:27 PM on June 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Contact your apartment manager-they can and will make it so that if he comes back on property he's trespassing. I would do this because, first, safety, and second, you don't want to lose your lease because her dad is being a jack*ss.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:58 PM on June 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another reason to contact your landlord is to let them know that if GF's father ever tries, he is NEVER be permitted entry to your apartment..... if he goes to your landlord and claims he's worried about his daughter, or hasn't heard from her, or smells smoke or gas, or any other reason whatsoever: make sure your landlord knows he is NEVER to give that man access to your home.

I wouldn't worry about tresspassing charges this time, but NEXT time.... oh yes, next time definately. Go ahead and email him (or text --- the point is, something in writing, not just spoken) and tell him that next time he tries invading your home, you will press charges.
posted by easily confused at 5:59 PM on June 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


(in canada) we have no trespassing orders as well as no contact orders. both are filed by the police (not the person). I would start with a no trespassing order for sure and not wait for ''next time''. it sends a pretty clear message that that behaviour isn't acceptable and that there are consquences. but not quite as severe as a no contact/restraining order.
posted by katie521 at 7:10 PM on June 13, 2013


I agree w/ St. Alia; send him a trespass notice. If charges are filed, he'll go to court, and, depending on his history with the law, might get a suspended sentence. (IANAL) I can't see it being helpful. Except. Does he have a history of violence, esp. with your girlfriend? Would it be useful to have an arrest record to build on previous issues?
posted by theora55 at 7:23 PM on June 13, 2013


saeculorum:
That'd be enough for me not to continue with the issue. Her dad is gone. Don't let her dad back into your apartment. .... It's highly likely that a criminal case will only result in more interaction with him, since the right to face one's accuser is integral to the legal system.
saeculorum, you seem to be arguing "do nothing and it will all blow over." From everything I have ever heard, and every similar experience I've been aware of, this is terrible advice.

OP: Assume that he might be back, and that he might be violent the next time. Make sure that everyone involved - landlord, neighbors, police, girlfriend's mom - are clear that he is causing trouble and is not allowed on your property.

Finally, do press charges with the police. I'm not interested in the semantics of how this should be worded; just ask the police to pursue the matter to protect yourself. You are not less likely to be bothered if you ignore a violent family member, and forcing his way into the apartment is an act of violence, plain and simple.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2013


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