here are three degrees of criminal trespass (Sections 13A-7-2, 13A-7-3 and 13A-7-4). The harshest penalty is for someone trespassing in a dwelling (a Class A misdemeanor), the second most is for someone trespassing on property that is fenced or enclosed in a way to exclude intruders (a Class C misdemeanor), and the softest penalty is for someone who trespasses on other types of property (a violation).
Criminal trespass occurs when someone knowingly enters or remains unlawfully upon a premises, which could be proven if signs were posted on the property. The law is not specific whether the posting of signs would be enough to warrant a Class C misdemeanor (intruders are being excluded, but there is no physical enclosure).
Under state law 11.46.350, if someone enters or remains on land (without the intent of committing a crime) that is not enclosed, they may do so unless personally told not to by an authorized person, or if a notice against trespass is posted in “a reasonably conspicuous manner under the circumstances.”
It is a class 3 misdemeanor under article 13-1502, to knowingly enter or remain unlawfully on property. Knowingly is not expressly defined, but if someone likely passes a visible “no trespassing” sign on their way in, it can help demonstrate a trespasser’s awareness of their actions.
Purposefully entering or remaining unlawfully on another person’s premises is criminal trespass according to AR Code § 5-39-203. Trespassing receives a harsher punishment if it involves an occupiable structure or the removal of a posted sign or fence. The person aggrieved by a trespasser is entitled to recover actual damages caused, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.
California Penal Code 14.602.8 states that to keep unwanted persons off property, private land not enclosed by fence must have at least three signs per mile along exterior boundaries forbidding trespass. Also, all roads and trails entering the land must have signs posted. If someone willfully enters land that is either enclosed by fence or follows the sign requirements above, they will be in violation of the law and be punished in tiers.
If one unlawfully enters or remains on someone else’s premises, they are considered to have committed criminal trespass. Premises include buildings, land, motor vehicles or other property, and criminal trespass can be a first, second or third degree offence, depending on the circumstances. As stated by Colorado’s criminal jury instructions on trespass and criminal mischief, first and second degree prosecutions require proof of the individual knowingly committing the act, and regularly posted “no trespassing” signs can help prove that.
If private property has a fence or has signs posted that are “reasonably likely” to come to the attention of intruders, then trespassers will be responsible for their actions. CGS § 53a-107 to 110 states the differing degrees of trouble a trespasser would be in for different circumstances, but properly posting signs letting people know property is off limits is a good route to take.
All three degrees of criminal trespass outlined in Delaware codes § 821 to § 823 require the culprit to knowingly enter or remain unlawfully upon real property. By clearly posting signs telling people trespassing is not permitted on your property, you are both letting people know your intent and also letting people know they are now legally responsible to follow your demand.
Someone is considered a criminal trespasser if they willfully enter or remain upon any property without being authorized, licensed or invited. The way to let someone know they are not authorized is either through actual communication or by very specific posting, fencing or cultivation guidelines. Here’s a partial explanation of Florida statute 810.011, which explains the guidelines for posting no trespassing signs:
- Signs must be placed less than 500 feet apart along the boundaries of property, and at each corner
- Signs must appear prominently, in letters at least 2″ in height with the words “no trespassing” and the name of the owner, lessee, or occupant of the property
- Clearly noticeable from outside the boundary line
- No trespassing notices can be painted on trees, but it must be accompanied by a sign complying with the above rules
- Posting is not necessary on any enclosed land or place less than 5 acres in area on which there is a dwelling
Criminal trespass encompasses a varying degree of issues in Georgia Code 16-7-21. The typical “knowingly and without authority entering or remaining upon another’s property” is included, but so is intentionally damaging another person’s property with less than $500 of damage. Also, interfering with the possession or use of another’s property without consent falls under the umbrella of criminal trespass. Even more is covered (like the vandalism of monuments on private land to deceased persons who served in the military), but the main goal of a no trespassing sign remains the same: deter possible offenders from committing the act.
It is a second degree offense, according to Hawaii’s §708-814, to trespass if a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully upon a premises that is designed to exclude intruders.
Also, knowingly entering or remaining on agricultural or unimproved or unused land without permission from the owner or other authorized individual would constitute a second degree offense. To ensure a trespasser knowingly entered, signs must be posted and read “Private Property” for agricultural land or “Private Property- No Trespassing” for unimproved or unused land and the lettering should be at least 2″ in height. The signs should be placed at reasonable intervals along the boundary of the property and at road and trail entrances. The signs must be clearly noticeable from outside the boundary line.
Criminal trespassing in Idaho carries a large penalty, as stated by statute 18-7011. If you properly mark your property, a $1000 fine and/or six month jail sentence can be handed down to offenders—that’s a pretty good deterrent. Proper marking is as follows:
- Posted “No Trespassing” signs, or signs with like meaning, every 660 feet along the boundary of property
- 100 Sq. in. of high-visibility orange paint (or 18″ on of top of posts) can substitute for signage
- Where public roads enter the property, a visible sign should be posted very similar to this: PRIVATE PROPERTY OFF [fill in relevant compass directions] SIDE OF ROAD NEXT [fill in the distance] MILES
- Where public road exits real property, a visible sign should be posted very similar to this: LEAVING PRIVATE PROPERTY
Criminal code Sec. 21-3 declares that a law has been broken if a person enters or remains upon land of another knowingly and without lawful authority, and that notice is given that entry is forbidden. “Notice” is defined as either verbally or written—and written could either be a court order (for a specific person) or a printed or written notice posted conspicuously at the main entrance to the property (for anybody). Specific purple marks on trees or posts (8″ length and between 3′ and 5′ height) are also a viable option to notify possible trespassers.
A criminal trespasser is described in IC 35-43-2-2 as someone who intentionally enters the property of another person after being denied entry by that person or their agent. It is a class A misdemeanor unless other stipulations are met, which would make the penalty even greater. A person is considered to have been denied entry if the notice was given through:
- Personal communication, either oral or written
- A posted notice at the main entrance stating that trespassing is prohibited—in a manner likely to be seen by the public
- An appropriate hearing authority or court order
The term “trespassing” is defined differently in code 716.7 than in other states. It denotes only the illegal acts, and therefore explicitly mentions what should not be considered trespassing, such as:
- Retrieving personal property or legally hunted game (injured or dead) that inadvertently ended up on another’s property—as long as the most direct route was taken to retrieve and exit the property
- Entering the right-of-way of a public road or highway
- Entering or remaining on another’s property without being notified
It is, therefore, crucial to notify possible trespassers of your desire for them to stay off the property, which would finally make them fall under the category of a trespasser if they failed to adhere.
Land, unnavigable water, structures and vehicles can be trespassed upon, according to Statute 21-5808. Criminal trespassing occurs when someone enters or remains on any such premises knowing that they are not authorized to do so. Unauthorized is clarified as being:
- Communicated to personally that entering or remaining on property is forbidden
- Aware that trespassing is not allowed due to fencing or readily visible posting, which includes:
○ Signs stating hunting, trapping or fishing is allowed by written permission only, or
○ Purple paint markers at least 8″ in length between 3 and 5 feet high
There are three degrees of criminal trespass in KSR Chapter 511. All three include knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on someone else’s property. The location determines the severity of the penalty:
- It is a Class A misdemeanor to trespass in a dwelling
- It is a Class B misdemeanor to trespass when notice against trespass is given by fencing or otherwise
- It is a violation to trespass when none of the above criteria are met
No one is allowed to enter property owner by others without express, legal or implied authorization. Legal authorization covers law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, etc. RS14.63.3 further states that entering or remaining on property after being forbidden provides a tougher penalty (up to a $500 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail). Being forbidden can mean orally or in writing, which includes posted signage. Signs need to be posted where they “may be reasonably expected to be seen.” It is also illegal to help someone else criminally trespass when access is forbidden.
It is against the law to enter or remain in a place in defiance of personal communication by the owner or authorized person. Entering a dwelling or structure that is locked or barred without privilege is also unlawful, according to Chapter 17 §402. If a place posted in a likely manner to come to the attention of intruders—or is fenced—then it is also illegal.
Proper posting includes signs or paint markings. Signs must mention that access is prohibited, prohibited without proper permission, or prohibited for specific purposes. Paint must be at least 8″ in length, between 3 and 5 feet from the ground, and be of the color and type adopted by the Bureau of Forestry. Signs or paint markers must be placed at least every 100 feet around the boundary of prohibited property and at all vehicle entries from a public road.
If entry is prohibited without permission or for specific purposes, a sign can be used in conjunction with paint markings, but the signs don’t need to be placed every 100 feet.
Trespassing on posted property is a misdemeanor with escalating penalties for each time someone is convicted. Rules for posting are in Maryland Code 6-402, and state that signs and paint marks must be placed where they reasonably may be seen. Paint marks must be made on trees or posts at each entrance to property and next to public roadways, waterways and other land boundaries. Pint markers must also conform with Department of Natural Resources regulations.
Massachusetts criminal law 266-120 explains that a person can be arrested for entering or remaining on property after being forbidden to do so “by the person who has lawful control of said premises.” The three ways someone can be forbidden is by direct communication, a court order or by notice posted on the property.
This law does not apply to tenants after a contract is allegedly terminated—such a circumstance must go through appropriate civil proceedings.
There are three ways to be considered an unlawful trespasser on the premises of another under Michigan Penal Code 750-552. They are as follows:
- Enter property (without lawful authority) to do so after being forbidden to do so by the owner, occupant or an authorized agent
- Remain on property (without lawful authority) after being notified to depart by the owner, occupant or an authorized agent
- Enter or remain (without lawful authority) on fenced or posted property without consent from the owner, occupant or an authorized agent—this does not apply to a person who is on the property to ask for permission.
The classification of illegal trespassing and the associated posting rules are very detailed in Minnesota statute 609.605. Entering and refusing to leave another’s land after being demanded to do so is one way to be in departure with this law. Other ways include entering another’s land to take or injure fruits or vegetables without permission, being at a cemetery after posted hours, permitting domestic animals to go on another’s land within a city, and trespassing on another’s locked or posted building without consent, except in emergency situations.
Posting in accordance to the previous example includes the placement of a sign at least 8 1/2″ x 11″ on the outside of the building or on the property in a highly visible location. The sign should instruct that trespassing is not permitted.
Entering or remaining on someone’s property after being forbidden, orally or in writing, can make the trespasser guilty of a misdemeanor—as stated in Mississippi Code 97-17-97. The punishment is up to a $500 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail. “In writing” above includes posting signs on buildings or land where they will be reasonably seen.
Trespass in the second degree is committed if someone enters another’s property unlawfully. Trespass in the first degree adds the terms “knowingly,” which means the property needs a fence or other enclosure, or that trespassers need to be given notice. Missouri statute 569.140.1 explains that notice is either actual communication to the trespasser or the posting of the notice in a manner “reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.”
Trespass in the second degree is categorized as an infraction, while trespassing in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor. Therefore, the posting of “No Trespassing” signs should be a decent deterrent for possible trespassers.
Criminal trespassing to property is committed if someone knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in an occupied structure or on the premises of another. If convicted, the person will be fined up to $500 and/or be imprisoned for up to 6 months.
“Entering or remaining unlawfully” is defined in Montana Code 45-6-201 as not having explicit permission or not obeying posted notice denying entry. If the private property has no public right-of-way, a post must:
- Have a written notice or at least 50 sq. in. of fluorescent orange paint (covering the entire post—unless using a metal fence post); and
- Be placed at each normal point of access, including water body crossings
If the public has an unfenced right-of-way via a public road, then a landowner or authorized agent must:
- Position a noticeable sign no closer than 30 feet from the centerline of roadway where it enters private land, stating words very similar to “Private Property, No Trespassing Off Road Next ___ Miles”; or
- Position written notice no closer than 30 feet from the centerline of roadway at regular intervals of no more than every 1/4 mile along the roadway where it borders unfenced private land.
Second degree criminal trespass is committed if someone enters or remains in any place knowing that they are not permitted to do so. A notice against trespassing must be given in one of these ways:
- Direct communication to the trespasser
- Posting in a way that that should come to the attention of intruders
- Fencing or other enclosures that usually keep out intruders
Nebraska statute 28-521 states second degree criminal trespass is a Class III misdemeanor unless defying an order to leave that was communicated personally, in which case it is a Class II misdemeanor.
It is unlawful trespassing if someone goes upon another’s property to harass the owner or a tenant. NRS 207.200 goes on to further define trespassing as willful entering or remaining upon another’s property after being warned not to trespass. Fluorescent orange posts are adequate warnings for agricultural land, but otherwise fencing or oral or written communication is necessary. Land that is posted or fenced makes the chance of conviction for a trespasser much higher.
Sign posting rules: Anyone besides the property owner or occupant must have written permission (from the owner or occupant) to post signs. Each sign must have the name and address of the owner or occupant on it. Not following these sign posting rules is a misdemeanor.
New Hampshire Criminal Code 635:2 states that anyone not authorized to enter or remain in any place, and does so knowingly, is guilty of criminal trespass. It is only considered a violation, unless any of these scenarios take place (in which case it is a misdemeanor):
- An occupied structure was intruded
- The place was secured
- The owner or an authorized person’s order to leave was not adhered to
- A court order denying entry to a place was ignored
A secured place includes fenced land or property that is posted “in a manner likely to come to the attention of intruders.”
Trespassing is considered a crime of the fourth degree, a disorderly offense or a petty disorderly offense. It is the stronger offense if the trespass occurs in a dwelling, the medium offense if occurs in another type of structure, and the most lenient offense is when it occurs on other property.
N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(a) states that someone commits the offense when they knowingly enter or remain on property that is not theirs, and that they are not authorized to do so. A trespasser can be proven to have knowingly done so by having signs posted on the premises in a conspicuous manner.
Charges can be made against someone who is trespassing on private property, according to Chapter 30-14-1, if they:
- Enter property that is legally posted or fenced and they don’t have written permission to be there
- Enter property even though they know permission to be there has been denied or withdrawn
- Remain on property after being told to leave by the owner or an authorized person
These rules for posting signs on unfenced property must be followed to legally keep out trespassers:
- Posted every 500 feet along the boundaries and at each roadway or apparent way of access to the property
- Printed legibly in English
- At least 144 sq. in. in size
- Include name and address of person in authority of the property
- State specific actions that are forbidden (like no trespassing, no fishing, and/or no digging)
Penal Law 140 states that in order for someone to be found guilty of criminal trespass, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they unlawfully entered or remained upon property and that they did so knowingly. Posting signs can help prove the tricky “knowingly” requirement, and these are the posting guidelines:
- Measure at least 11″ x 11″
- Include the name and address of the owner or an authorized person
- State “Posted” or warn against entry for specified purposes (or all purposes) without consent of the person named above
- The wording above must cover at least 9″ x 9″ of the sign
- Be set at no more than 660 feet apart along boundaries and at least one on each side and corner
- Be high enough and spaced closely enough to be seen
If land is posted consistent with § 14-159.7, anyone who willfully enters or remains without written permission of the owner or authorized agent has committed trespassing. Posting can be by purple paint marks on trees or posts (with specific criteria), or by signs following these rules:
- Conspicuously posted at a size of at least 120 sq. in.
- No more than 200 yards apart, close to and along the boundaries
- At least one sign on each side of property and at each corner
- Along lakes, streams and ponds, signs just need to be placed along the shoreline
Purposefully entering or remaining unlawfully on another person’s premises is criminal trespass according to Chapter 12.1-22-03. Trespassing receives a harsher punishment if it involves a dwelling or place enclosed in a way to exclude intruders. The person aggrieved by a trespasser is entitled to recover actual damages caused, attorney’s fees and punitive damages. If actual communication or posted signs are used to convey that trespassing is not permitted, the penalty is a class B misdemeanor. Signs must:
- Be posted “in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders”
- Include the name of the person posting the premises in legible letters
Chapter 2911.21, it is forbidden for people to do any of the following without authorization or permission:
- Knowingly enter or remain on another’s property
- Recklessly enter or remain on another’s property after being made aware that it is not permitted —this can be proven by verified by personal communication, fencing or posting
- Refuse leaving the land of another after being notified by easily visible signage or directly by an authorized person
Someone is deemed a trespasser if they willfully or maliciously enter the property of another after being forbidden to do so, or without the permission of the owner or an authorized agent. Being forbidden includes having signs that read “Property Restricted”, “Posted – Keep Out”, Keep Out”, “No Trespassing”, or something similar. Whether property is fenced or not, signs must be easily visible at all normally expected entry points to property.
Under Chapter 70 Section 1835.5, when someone is on the land of another without explanation (recreational trespass), the lack of signs is not enough to prove that permission was given.
It must be proved that property was “closed” when trespassing took place in order for damages to be claimed. Trespassing is defined in § 105.700 as entering or remaining on the land of another without permission of the owner. “Closed” can literally mean that, or it can mean land that had notice posted. If the land provides no public right-of-way (no roads or bodies of water through it), then a sign or fluorescent orange paint must be posted conspicuously. The paint must be at least 50 sq. in. except when using metal fence posts—in which case the top 6″ must be painted. If using a sign, the sign must:
- Measure at least 8″ in height and at least 11″ in width
- Contain the words “Closed to Entry” or something similar, in letters at least 1″ in height
- Display the name, business address and phone number of the owner or an authorized agent
If the property does have a right-of-way passing through it, then fluorescent orange paint or a different type of sign should be used. This sign should be very similar to “Private Property, No Trespassing Off Road Next ___ Miles”.
Title 18 § 3503 states a person is considered a “defiant trespasser” if they knowingly, and without authority, enter or remain in a place that has notice against trespass given by:
- Direct communication
- Posting in a way that intruders would likely see
- Fencing or other enclosure designed to keep out intruders
There are other designations for trespassers (simple trespasser, agricultural trespasser, etc.), depending on where and for which reasons the offense takes place.
If someone is forbidden to be on another’s land by an authorized person (owner or agent), they can be punished under § 11-44-26 if they do any other the following:
- Willfully trespass upon the property
- Remain on the property with no legitimate purpose
- Remain on land immediately surrounding a dwelling with no legitimate purpose, including any closely associated buildings and structures
One of the ways to forbid someone from trespassing is with posted signs. The signs should indicate what is forbidden (no trespassing, no hunting, no fishing, etc.) and they should be posted conspicuously with legible writing.
A person who enters the property of another willfully and without authority to do so can be held accountable by law. Section 16-11-610 specifically forbids trespassing for the purpose of hunting, fishing, trapping, collecting fruit, cutting timber and other purposes, but there are other sections that forbid an even wider variety of practices. If a landowner or tenant posts notice prohibiting entry in four conspicuous places on the border of their property, proof of the posting is considered conclusive in proving an intruder trespassed.
According to sections 22-35-5 and 22-35-6 of South Dakota’s Codified Laws, when a person enters, remains or refuses to leave any building or structure without privilege or permission, they will be guilty of trespass. The structure must either verbally warn or clearly post notice of trespass prior to the act. If a fence or another enclosure is present in which a reasonable person would recognize as being designed to exclude trespassers, that person will be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. If a trespasser refuses to leave after a personally communicated order to leave, the resulting charge will be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Property owner or other authorized person must have visible signs at all entry and access points. According to Section 39-14-405, any person that enters or remains on a property without proper consent will be considered trespassing. Consent may be inferred in the event that property is used for commercial purposes open to the general public. Exceptions to this may include:
- If a person who entered or remained on the property reasonably believed that consent had been granted
- A person’s conduct did not substantially interfere with the owner’s use of the property
- A person immediately left the property upon request
The exceptions do not apply if a property owner places signs at all visible points of access and are reasonably likely to be seen.
According to Section 30.05, if verbal or written “effective consent” is not given to someone, misdemeanor criminal trespass is committed when they enter or remain on or in a property. If property is unfenced, written notice can be done in two ways:
- By posting a visible sign at entrances to property or a building indicating forbidden entry
- By purple paint markings placed on trees or posts on property
- Marks must not be less than 8″ in length and not less than 1″ wide
- Marks must be placed above 3 feet but no higher than 5 feet from the ground
- Notice must be visible to any person approaching property and must not be more than:
- 100 feet apart on forest land; or
- 1,000 feet apart on any other land
Title 76 chapter 6 Part 2 Section 206 states that anyone who enters (intrusion of entire body) or remains on a property without consent will be charged with a class A or B misdemeanor. Notice must be verbally or reasonably posted in a way that intruders will be notified of trespass or any other stipulations. A person may be considered guilty of trespass if they:
- Enter or remain on the property without consent and:
- Intend to cause annoyance or injury
- Intend to commit a crime other than theft or felony
- Are reckless to another’s safety
- Enter or remain on property knowing that their presence is unlawful due to personal communication, fencing or posting of signs
- Enter a condominium unit without reasonable notice
According to Title 13 Chapter 81 Section 3705, proper notice of trespass can be done either verbally or through signs or placards situated to give reasonable notice. Any trespasser who fails to adhere to proper notice of trespass that enters or remains on any land or place will be subject to up to 3 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $500. In the case of vacant or abandoned property, actual communication with law enforcement will be considered consent. A person that enters or remains in a building other than a residence unlawfully may be subject to up to one year imprisonment and/or up to a $500 fine. A person who enters or remains in a dwelling house unlawfully may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined up to $2000.
Virginia’s no trespassing laws are very detailed and varied, so a good look at Code of Virginia Title 18.2 Sections 119-135 is recommended. Consent to enter or remain on property or premises can be given orally or in written fashion. Failure of a person to abide by those laws will be guilty of trespassing. If signage is used to forbid entry, they must be placed in a place of the premises or area that can be reasonably seen. In the cases of hunting, fishing and trapping, trespassers may be found guilty when signs or tree markings prohibiting those activities are posted or placed at entrances and adjacent roadways and waterways. Such indications must be reasonably seen and paint markings must be at least 3 feet from the ground but not exceeding 6 feet from the ground or normal water surface.
Title 9A.52 states that anyone who enters and remains unlawfully without privilege or license will be considered trespassing and charged with a misdemeanor. A property owner may place a no trespassing sign in an obvious and visible manner and that will be considered sufficient to allow legal recourse.
According to Chapter 61 Article 61-3B, criminal trespassing is “willful unauthorized entry upon, in, or under the property of another.” While the punishment for violations of this code is often a misdemeanor and a fine, sometimes it may carry the penalty of a felony. The requirements for “posted land” states that “reasonably maintained signs are placed not more than 500 feet apart along and at each corner of the boundaries of the land” and must be noticeable from the boundaries of the land. Letters on the signs must not be less than 2″ in height and must contain the words “no trespassing”. Signs must also include the names of the owner, lessee or occupant of the land. If a property is less than five acres, has a dwelling house or property and is clearly private, it is not necessary to post notice in order to obtain the benefits of the article in regards to trespass on enclosed land.
Wisconsin’s crimes against property laws can be found in Chapter 943.13- 943.15. Wisconsin defines trespassing as “to enter or remain on enclosed, cultivated or undeveloped land of another without the express or implied consent of the owner or occupant”. Notice can be given through signs that are at least 11″ and they must be placed in at least two conspicuous places for every 40 acres to be protected. The sign must provide appropriate notice with the name of the person giving notice followed by the word “owner” or “occupant”. If using markings, they must be at least one foot long, include the phrase “private land” in a contrasting color and the name of the owner, and be spaced in at least two conspicuous places for every 40 acres.
Trespassing is considered criminal in Section 6-3-303 if one does it knowing they are unauthorized to do so, or after being notified not to do so. Notification can be by direct or indirect communication, or by the posting of signs that would reasonably be seen by would-be trespassers.