2nd Degree Trespassing After Paying a Cover Charge

Silva, Kiernan & Associates, Pllc

A common refrain I hear from clients is how they got arrested for trespassing after they had paid to enter a club or bar. Many people believe that once they have paid to enter a private establishment, they can leave and return as often as they like. Another source of confusion is being able to re-enter the establishment after being told to leave.

It is completely up to the bar who they allow in their establishment. Some bars have a leave and pay to re-enter policy. However, the most common arrest for trespassing around bars is when a patron has been asked to leave.

If a patron is asked to leave a bar, and they remain after being asked to leave, the patron is trespassing. Also, if the patron is asked to leave and later tries to re-enter the bar, the patron is trespassing. The fact that a cover was paid to the club does not change the rule.

Often a patron who has over-consumed will be asked to leave a bar. Rarely will the bar allow the unruly patron to close out any tab left open when being ejected. If the patron refuses to leave until the card is returned, or tries to re-enter the bar to retrieve the card, can be charged with trespassing.

A little warning, the downtown task force officers do not have a policy of alternate dispute resolution. They will not arbitrate domestic disputes or facilitate the retrieval of credit cards. They will not hold long discussions with by-standers on the validity of their actions. There is a paddy wagon on station downtown on weekends and festivals. Law enforcement is not afraid of filling it up, so unless absolutely necessary, try to avoid drawing their attention.