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By Jessica Travis on Monday, August 7, 2016
The release of Pokémon Go has raised a lot of questions for attorneys, police, and property owners across the nation. Within days of the app’s release in the U.S., the news was flooded with stories about people trespassing on property and entering people’s homes, car crashes, and even a player who found a dead body while hunting for Pokémon.
The game works by using the GPS on a player, or Pokémon Trainer’s phone to track their movement as they hunt for and capture various Pokémon characters that they can then train and battle with other players. There are various Poke Stops and gyms that players can go to in order to obtain items and interact with other Pokémon Trainers. You can use the camera feature on your phone to find the Pokémon in the real world, making Pokémon Go feel like a augmented reality
world on top of our real world. There could be a Pokémon sitting right next to you right now, and you would not know unless you downloaded the App and started playing.
While the release of the game has gotten many people off the couch, outside, walking around, and interacting with others, it has caused some problems including issues of trespass, robberies, and people driving while playing the game.
When a player signs up for the game, they are required to agree to the Terms of Service. The Terms of Service include such warnings as “your use of the App and play of the game is at your own risk,” and “[y]ou also agree not to use the App to violate any applicable law, rule, or regulation (including but not limited to the laws of trespass).” When you log into the game, there are also warnings telling you to be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times, to not play while driving, and to avoid dangerous areas.
While you should not drive your car to hunt down Pokémon, you also need to pay attention while hunting them on foot, as people have been hit by cars after walking into traffic. Legoland released Safety Guidelines for their guests that chose to play while visiting the park. Orlando Police have urged players to be aware of their surroundings after several people were robbed of their phones while playing. Police are reminding players to follow trespass laws, and to abide by city park hours.
Trespassing has been an issue for Pokémon players, and if someone asks you to leave their property and you refuse to go, or if a no trespassing sign is posted, you can be charged with trespassing. You can also be charged with trespassing for staying in a city or state park after the posted park hours.
In Florida, trespassing on someone’s property other than a building, or vehicle is a first degree misdemeanor and can result in a $1,000 fine for first time offenders. However, if you are trespassing in an unoccupied building or vehicle, you can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor which can result in up to a $500 file for first time
offenders. If there is another human being inside the building or vehicle, then you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. Trespassing on certain construction sites can also result in third degree felony charges.
The “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” can be applied to Pokémon Go players caught playing the game while driving. The law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering information into a wireless communication device or while sending or reading data on a wireless device for the purposes of non-voice communication. Violation of this law can be punishable as a nonmoving violation for the first offense. This law can only be enforced as a secondary action, meaning that the driver of the motor vehicle must first be detained for another violation of the law.
Playing a game on your phone is never an excuse for breaking the law. If you have been charged with trespassing, whether from playing Pokémon or for any other reason, it is important that you contact an experienced attorney with knowledge and experience in this area of the law.
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