Trespassing Is A Serious Offense, Especially If It’s On Disney Property

  • Jun 17 2020

The coronavirus quarantine has made us all a little stir crazy. But that does not mean that every trip out of the house needs to be some sort of adventure. Just ask Richard McGuire, who was arrested and charged with trespassing after he was found camping on a Disney property. 

Discovery Island is an abandoned but well-known Disney property. Although it has been vacant for two decades, it has a reputation for being a popular destination for urban explorers and social media influencers who want to show that they are edgy. 

When local police arrested Richard McGuire for camping on Discovery Island, he claimed he had no idea he was trespassing on Disney property despite the fact that the island has numerous no trespassing signs and is surrounded by other Disney properties. 

It is possible that McGuire’s proclaimed ignorance will be the foundation of his legal defense. Under Florida law, simple trespass is a second degree misdemeanor. It is defined as willfully entering or remaining upon property, or in a structure or conveyance, without the express or implied permission of the owner.

Whether McGuire’s actions were willful depends in part on his knowing that he was somewhere he was not supposed to be. 

In any trespass case, evidence that establishes knowledge or ignorance on the part of the alleged trespasser is critical. Is it possible the defendant arrived at the forbidden destination by a route that was easy to access? Were there barriers to entry? Were there plenty of “No Trespassing” signs in plain view? 

The end of the definition of trespassing also becomes important. What does the express or implied permission of the owner mean? Express permission means the owner saying verbally or in writing that it is okay for a visitor to be somewhere. Express permission can also be granted by a property owner who physically takes or leads a visitor to a property.

Implied permission is a bit trickier. A property owner that prepares for visitors, but expressly invites no one, may have given implied permission. A property owner who doesn’t stop previous trespassers may be said to have given implied permission to future trespassers. 

McGuire could argue that the fact that there are a lot of posts on the internet from people who have previously trespassed on Discovery Island gave him implied permission to visit. Disney could counter by showing that they attempt to prosecute or at least punish the people who make those posts, and all other trespassers who are caught on their properties. Potential trespassers take note, McGuire has already been banned from Disney for life, no matter what happens to his case in the courts. 

As criminal defense attorneys, it is our job to do what we have done in this blog post, and break down the crimes our clients have been charged with into pieces. We then lay the evidence in the case on top of those pieces and look for weaknesses. There’s always one there, and that becomes the basis for our defense. 

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, and you are looking for an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Miami area, the Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC team is ready to take your call. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. 

Posted in: Criminal