Thus, we find the state failed to present sufficient evidence to show Mr. Randolph was without privilege to enter and remain as an invited guest in his uncle’s Greenbelt apartment on December 29, 2020.
State v. Randolph
2022 – Ohio – 2909
Sixth District Appellate Court
Lucas County, Ohio
August 19, 2022
On Tuesday December 29, 2020, in the early evening, Mr. Antonio Randolph and approximately ten other people were gathered for a party in an apartment leased to Mr. Randolph’s uncle, Henry Randolph, at the Greenbelt Place Apartments in Toledo, Ohio.
The Greenbelt Apartments in Toledo, Ohio were the sight of a party, arrest, conviction and appeal. Did Mr. Randolph have the right to party at his uncle’s apartment?
Greenbelt property manager, Ms. Renee Freeman, received noise complaints from other tenants, so she and police officers, who were at Greenbelt, went to the uncle’s apartment. The uncle was not at his apartment for the festivities, but Ms. Freeman and the police encountered Mr. Randolph, who had been told on numerous occasions by Ms. Freeman that he was not permitted on Greenbelt property. Mr. Randolph was arrested and charged with criminal trespass in violation of O.R.C. § 2911.21, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
A bench trial was held at which Ms. Freeman and Mr. Randolph testified. Ms. Freeman testified to the following. She has worked at Greenbelt since 2019, and her role as Greenbelt manager includes “maintain[ing] the properties, the occupancy and living standards for my residents.” She became aware of Mr. Randolph within the first six months of working at Greenbelt. Initially, she noticed that Mr. Randolph visited family at Greenbelt, then later, Mr. Randolph was often found in vacant units. Ms. Freeman stated “[W]e are really struggling with keeping the homeless population out of our vacant units. Unfortunately, [Mr. Randolph] is one that is frequently found in a vacant unit.” Although the empty apartments were locked, homeless people accessed the units “[T]hrough windows, broken windows, kicking doors in. Whatever means it takes.”
Ms. Freeman testified that beginning in June 2020, she told Mr. Randolph many times that he was banned from Greenbelt property. In addition, Mr. Randolph’s name was on a list of people who were banned from Greenbelt property, which was posted on the window by the office door. On December 29, 2020, Ms. Freeman received complaints from other Greenbelt tenants about the partying, trash and noise coming from the uncle’s apartment. Ms. Freeman and police officers arrived at the apartment where there were about eleven people, including Mr. Randolph. On cross-examination, Ms. Freeman was asked if Mr. Randolph was charged with breaking into the uncle’s apartment and she responded, “No. He [Mr. Randolph] was a guest.”.
After Ms. Freeman’s testimony, Mr. Randolph made a motion for judgment of acquittal pursuant to Criminal Rule 29, which was denied. Mr. Randolph then testified to the following. He was invited by his uncle to the uncle’s Greenbelt apartment on December 29, 2020. Mr. Randolph had never been told by anyone that he was not allowed on Greenbelt property, and he was not aware he was on a banned list. On cross-examination when Mr. Randolph was asked if he understood that he was banned from Greenbelt property, he responded, “No. I’m not banned from Greenbelt. What did I do in order to get banned from the Greenbelt? I have never committed a crime on the Greenbelt.”
Mr. Randolph was found guilty of criminal trespass. In the trial court’s July 20, 2021 Decision and Judgment Entry, the court noted Mr. Randolph argued he was a privileged invitee of a tenant, and Mr. Randolph relied on case law where the court held a landlord is divested of the possessory interest in property when a lease is executed.
The trial court found Ms. Freeman’s testimony credible, including that she had observed Mr. Randolph on prior occasions in vacant Greenbelt units, she had informed him multiple times that he was not permitted to return to Greenbelt, and Mr. Randolph’s name was placed on a printed banned list. The court observed that Mr. Randolph, during cross- examination, did not accept that Ms. Freeman had the right to exclude him from Greenbelt property because Mr. Randolph had been invited by his uncle. The court noted the unrebutted testimony was that Mr. Randolph was invited to Greenbelt by his uncle. Yet, the court found it was Ms. Freeman’s responsibility to protect Greenbelt property and the right of quiet enjoyment of all of the tenants. The trial court concluded “[D]espite having been properly notified [Mr. Randolph] without privilege entered the property of the Greenbelt Apartments on December 29, 202.”
The trial court sentenced Mr. Randolph to serve thirty days in jail, which was suspended, and ordered Mr. Randolph to pay costs. Mr. Randolph timely filed two appeals
Mr. Randolph asserts his conviction should be overturned because he was not served with written notice he was banned.
We find the evidence is undisputed that Mr. Randolph did not receive written notice that he was banned from Greenbelt property. We further find there is no mandate under O.R.C. § 2911.21 which requires written notice. Since written notice is not an element of criminal trespass, it is unnecessary for us to undertake an analysis of the sufficiency of the evidence or manifest weight of the evidence as to Mr. Randolph’s assertion that he was never served with written notice that he was banned from the property. Accordingly, we find Mr. Randolph’s first assignment of error not well-taken.
Mr. Randolph asserts that his conviction should be overturned because he was an invitee of his uncle, who was a legitimate Greenbelt tenant.
A review of the trial court record shows, and we find: there is contested evidence that Mr. Randolph had been banned from Greenbelt property by Ms. Freeman prior to December 29, 2020; there is uncontested evidence that Ms. Freeman received complaints from other Greenbelt tenants about the partying, trash, and noise coming from the uncle’s apartment on December 29, 2020; there is undisputed evidence that when Mr. Randolph was arrested for criminal trespass, he was a guest in his uncle’s Greenbelt apartment on December 29, 2020; there is no evidence that Mr. Randolph was the source of the trash and noise coming from his uncle’s apartment on December 29, 2020; and there is no evidence that Mr. Randolph was in his uncle’s apartment on December 29, 2020 for unlawful purposes.
In order for the state to prove Mr. Randolph committed a trespass in violation of O.R.C. § 2911.21, the state was required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Randolph was without privilege to enter and remain in his uncle’s apartment despite having been generally barred from the Greenbelt apartment complex.
Viewing the evidence in the record in a light most favorable to the state, we find that no rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Randolph was without privilege to be in his uncle’s Greenbelt apartment on December 29, 2020. It is noteworthy that the state failed to offer any evidence to show that Mr. Randolph’s uncle was not authorized or allowed to grant Mr. Randolph that privilege.
In fact, the state’s witness, Ms. Freeman, the Greenbelt manager, testified Mr. Randolph was a guest in the uncle’s apartment. Thus, we find the state failed to present sufficient evidence to show Mr. Randolph was without privilege to enter and remain as an invited guest in his uncle’s Greenbelt apartment on December 29, 2020.
We therefore find the trial court erred when it found Mr. Randolph guilty of criminal trespass. Accordingly, Mr. Randolph’s second assignment of error is well-taken.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Randolph, 2022 – Ohio – 2909.
This case was issued by the Sixth District Appellate Court which is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Erie, Fulton, Huron, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams and Wood.
Recently Greenbelt has fallen on some hard times as the City of Toledo has declared the apartments a nuisance property.
See a new story dated July 14, 2022
- This is a common call for service where a person has been told he are no longer welcome in an apartment complex. In this case the apartment manager testified she told Mr. Randolph that he was not permitted on the grounds of the Greenbelt Apartments. Following his conviction, Mr. Randolph’s first appeal claimed he was not given written notice that he was trespassed. The Sixth District Appellate Court rightfully concluded “[T]here is no mandate under O.R.C. § 2911.21 which requires written notice.”. Consequently, to sustain a conviction for Trespass it is not required that the trespassee is served written notice.
- However, Mr. Randolph was successful to get his trespass conviction overturned. His second appeal claimed that since he was a lawful invitee of his uncle, he was lawfully on the premises of the Greenbelt Apartments. The appellate court sustained this appeal because the state could not prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the apartment manager Ms. Renee Freeman had told Mr. Randolph that he was trespassed from the Greenbelt Apartments. So a good lesson learned here is that all trespassers who are told they are unwelcomed at a location should be given written notice, even though it is not required. Another way for the trespasser to be told he is not welcome is for the property owner/manager to inform the trespassee in front of a law enforcement officer who can record it on a body camera and in some cases memorialize the trespass notice in a police report.
- In this case, the court provided a detailed analysis on different fact patterns of trespassing that was redacted in this article. However, there is one point that should be emphasized. If an apartment complex trespasses a person, that same person cannot return even if a lawful tenant of that apartment complex gives the trespassed person permission to return. In State v. Smith, 2012 – Ohio – 4861, the Second District Appellate Court held “[W]e consider not only the rights of a particular tenant to invite guests to her home, but also the rights of the other tenants to a multi-unit premises to the quiet enjoyment of the premises … Allowing one tenant’s invitation to trump the landlord’s ability to discharge that duty can deprive other tenants of their right to quiet enjoyment.”. Had Mr. Rudolph been properly served with a notice he was trespassed from Greenbelt Apartments, his party-hosting uncle could not have lawfully invited him back.
Don’t fail your training.
Don’t let your training fail you!
Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!