As a property owner, you have the right to refuse entry to anyone. When someone enters your property without your permission, he commits a crime known as trespassing. The property in question could be your house, piece of land, car, office, home, or beach.
Trespassing is a net that catches a wide variety of people: a passionate hunter who chases an antelope on private property, a fisherman whose boat ends up on a private island, youngsters having a party in a public park, sacked employees furiously entering the former employer’s premises to cause disturbance or an angry ex-spouse coming to your home or house to point fingers.
Killer Urbex Note: It is important to note that many of the locations we feature are in an extremely delicate state. Specifics on the locations are not given purposefully to ensure these abandoned places stay as vandalism and destruction-free as possible. Take only photos, leave only footprints.
Each state in the US has its own version of the Trespassing Laws. As happens when you commit a crime, there is no difference between what you know or ought to know. That is, you cannot argue your case on the basis that you were unaware the act amounted to trespass when you entered the property. When you travel across the United States of America, take the time to understand what each state’s trespassing laws basically say.
As you will find out, there are similarities and differences, so do not apply your understanding of the trespassing laws based on your previous location. Things may remarkably change the moment you cross the border.
Getting More Information
If you have a specific state from the list below that you would like to immediately get more information about, click the links in the list to snap straight to that state.
What Is Trespassing?
Simply put, trespassing is deliberately entering onto someone’s property which you already understand is off-limits. Trespassing also includes your refusal to leave the property after you have been asked or ordered to leave. You may have entered with the owner’s consent, but failing to leave when asked amounts to trespass.
A trespassing act can materialize from all kinds of unexpected situations: neighbors at war with one another, supermarket owners seeking to prevent loitering, or homeowners trying to protect their crops from wandering livestock.
A hotel or learning institution which anyone can visit might at some point single you out to keep away from it henceforth, and you become a trespasser if you enter it. For instance, if you habitually start fights and create commotion in a bar once drunk, the management can serve you with a restraining order to the effect that you shouldn’t set foot in the bar again. Your presence there henceforth becomes a crime.
Many people assume that a public building/property belongs to the public, so they are not trespassing when they walk through them or remain there. However, many public properties are not open to the public, or rather a public property is not an individual’s property so nobody has a claim to it.
If you are convicted of trespass, you face a range of penalties depending on the state’s trespass laws. However, trespassing generally attracts minor penalties (short jail terms and small fines) because it’s considered a petty crime. That happens if no other crime like burglary or violence was committed.
Why Do Trespassing Laws Matter When Exploring?
Whether as historians or photographers, explorers are generally on a mission to discover the unknown or engage with the (forgotten) past. They take a trip to the wilderness, ascend mountains and trees, squeeze themselves through tunnels or visit abandoned homes, buildings, or towns that are slowly rotting. There is always some mystery behind less visited places.
As an explorer, you might find yourself having to explore the constitution instead of the lonely places, should you be accused of trespassing. The building may have been abandoned, but the last act the owner did before leaving was erect signage announcing “No Trespassing Here.”
However, you ignored it because you assumed nobody was watching and the urge to get in was stronger than the possible legal hurdles, or you simply didn’t see the signage. Both invariably mean the same thing in court, especially if it was conspicuous signage.
Did you scale a wall or fence to get in? Did you break a padlock? How did you conclude the building is abandoned? Did you try to contact the owner prior to exploring it? How did you learn the place is deserted and open to permitless exploration? Can you prove you were not there to commit burglary or a more serious crime, only using exploration as a cover-up?
As an explorer, how you answer these questions will determine your case. Things can also work in your favor if the prosecution fails to prove that the plaintiff legally owns the place or property. How long the property has been abandoned may also work in your favor.
In short, as an explorer, you should take the time to understand the implications of the trespassing laws in every state you visit. You should also remember that it could be not only illegal to enter abandoned places but also dangerous and unsafe. Sometimes “No Trespassing” signage is for your safety.
Condensed Trespassing Laws for Each State, 2021
We are going to give a summary of what each State’s Laws say about trespassing. We have to point out that while we have taken the time to ascertain the accuracy of these Laws, we will not be held responsible for any repercussion resulting from your acting on these laws as presented
Remember also that laws are changed from time to time, so the information below is as good as the day it was published. You should take the extra steps to learn what new trespassing laws might have been enacted in each state.
With that out of the way, the following are the condensed trespassing laws for each state in 2021:
Alabama Trespassing Laws
In Alabama, you break the trespassing law when you enter or remain on a property/premise without the owner’s or a representative’s authority.
Criminal trespass first-degree is when you knowingly and unlawfully enter or remain in a structure customarily used for lodging, sleeping, or living. It is punishable by a fine or a jail term not exceeding one year.
The trespass second degree is when you knowingly and illegally enter/remain in a fenced property, whether the land is idle or not. The property may not have signage, but as long as it’s enclosed in a way suggesting that intruders are unwanted, you are liable to pay a fine for trespassing or be jailed for up to 90 days.
Alaska Trespassing Laws
Alaska’s trespassing laws have a touch of compassion about them. You can enter or remain in a property without permission and still be considered innocent unless there is a clear notice given to you by the owner or his representative to stay away from the property.
The notice should be in legible English and conspicuously placed at all known entry points to the property. The signage size should be not less than 144 square inches.
Furthermore, the notice should capture the property owner’s name and address together with the similar details of the representative who can grant access to enter.
Arizona Trespassing Laws
In Arizona, trespassing is defined as entering a property without permission, even if reasonable notice prohibiting entry has been proclaimed. Failing to leave the property when asked also amounts to trespassing.
The following three statues clearly define Arizona trespassing laws:
- Third Degree trespassing (AS 13-1502) – It involves entering or remaining in a property even after the owner, law enforcement officer or anyone in charge has asked you to leave. It falls under a Class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by not more than 30 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $500.
- Second Degree Trespassing (13-1503) – It is more serious, therefore it falls under Class 2 misdemeanor. It involves “knowingly entering or remaining illegally in or on any nonresidential structure or in any fenced commercial yard.” If found guilty, the trespasser faces up to 4 months in jail and a fine not exceeding $750.
- Third Degree Trespassing (13-1504) – It is the most severe and falls under Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony.
Arkansas Trespassing Laws
In Arkansas, all trespassing falls in the Class C misdemeanor except when the incident involves a car, in which case it becomes a Class B misdemeanor. Trespassing is herein defined as entering or remaining in someone else’s property without his consent or when a reasonably conspicuous notice is on display.
The punishment meted against the convict will depend on the extent of the offense.
California Trespassing Laws
According to California Penal Code Section 602.8, any person who enters onto an enclosed or cultivated private property without authority from the owner or the owner’s representative is considered a trespasser. Most California trespass cases fall under misdemeanor, meaning they lead to punishments not exceeding six months in jail or a fine not exceeding $1000, or both.
However, certain forms of trespass call for severe penalties. They are generally called aggravated trespass and involves the trespasser threatening to injure you physically and then entering your property (home, office, etc.) within 30 days without your permission with an aim to carry out the threat. This can result in felony charges preferred against the offender, resulting in a jail sentence between 16 months to 3 years.
Colorado Trespassing Laws
According to the Colorado Revised Statutes on Trespassing, this crime happens when someone knowingly and illegally enters or remains on or in a property without authority or license. Depending on the type of property involved and the trespasser’s reason for gaining the unlawful entry or refusal to leave, or the situation surrounding the offense, it can be either a misdemeanor or felony. For instance, a trespass case involving someone’s home, ranch, or a cultivated land is treated as a serious case and may call for relatively stricter penalties if the accused is found guilty.
Connecticut Trespassing Laws
Entering and remaining on a property that is enclosed or fenced and has a notice prohibiting unauthorized entry is considered trespassing in Connecticut, whether you are hunting, fishing, trekking for fun, camping, or partying.
There are three degrees of Criminal Trespass under the Connecticut penal code, all of which are misdemeanors; that is, each degree attracts up to a 1-year jail term, and/or a $2000 fine, and at times probation. The First Degree is the most serious. In this case, the accused knows he doesn’t have the right to enter and remain on a particular property, but he still enters and remains anyway, even after he is again ordered to leave by the authorized person.
The First Degree also applies if a person enters and remains in a particular premise while a restraining order prohibiting him from entering is in place.
Delaware Trespassing Laws
Delaware trespassing laws give a typical trespassing definition: you are a trespasser if you enter and remain unlawfully on a fenced or enclosed property. But there is a slight difference: there is no mention of signage or verbal notice that should warn the trespassers.
In the first degree of criminal trespass, you are guilty if it is proven you knowingly entered or remained unlawfully on a property. This criminal trespass is considered a serious violation.
The second degree would apply if you knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a building or on a real property whose fencing or enclosure clearly suggested it was off-limits for intruders. Second-degree trespass falls under an unclassified misdemeanor.
The third-degree criminal trespass would apply if you knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a dwelling/building used to house, shelter, feed, raise, breed, exhibit, or study animals. Criminal Trespass is a Class A misdemeanor.
Florida Trespassing Laws
Trespassing laws in Florida are a bit more detailed. The definition of trespassing remains the same as with other states, but then delves deeper in Florida: other than entering someone’s property such as house or land, you should also not unlawfully enter and remain in Structure or Conveyance. Conveyance is defined as a stopped car, trailer, aircraft, automobile, ship, boat, etc. Should you be found sleeping in any of these properties, you may face a criminal trespass charge.
Refusing to leave a premise (bar, restaurant, or an institution) during the hours that it is usually closed is as well trespassing in Florida. Damaging or removing a No Trespass signage is also a crime. Signage should have letters of at least 2 inches in height with No Trespassing written in international orange color. Other details include the name of the property owner or occupant. The signage should be conspicuously placed along boundary lines.
Georgia Trespassing Laws
The definition of trespass in Georgia is similar to what we have so far learned about other states. But the circumstances slightly differ. Intentionally damaging someone’s property without their consent amount to trespassing if the damage is worth up to $500. Another instance is when one knowingly interferes with another’s property in a malicious way without permission.
Entering on a land, premise, or into any part of any railroad car, vehicle, or aircraft belonging to another person for a purpose deemed unlawful is also trespassing. Remaining in the aforesaid properties once given the notice to leave is also trespassing, even if entry was not.
A minor cannot consent to another person to enter a property without a parent’s presence, especially when there is a notice that forbids unlawful entry. Therefore, an accused cannot argue his case that a minor invited him to the home.
Another instance of trespassing in Georgia involves defacing, mutilating, or defiling a grave marker, memorial, or monument to deceased persons who served in the military.
In each instance, the trespasser has to beware that he is forbidden to enter the property at the time he enters.
Hawaii Trespassing Laws
In Hawaii trespassing laws, a person commits trespass offense when he knowingly enters or remains upon a premise in a way considered unlawful. A reasonable warning by the property owner or law enforcement officer is sufficient notice. Any entry onto a commercial property within 12 months after a prohibiting notice is served amount to trespassing.
For agricultural lands, visible signage placed along the border and entry points is enough warning, whether the area is fenced/enclosed or not. But the signage must have “Private Property” on display, with the letters at least 2 inches in height.
Idaho Trespassing Laws
Like in many other states, gaining unauthorized access to private or public property is trespassing. Idaho legislature updated the state’s trespassing laws which took effect from 1st July 2018.
The amended law prefers stiffer penalties for both criminal and civic trespassings but relaxes the need for a landowner to post his property if he wants to pursue trespassing charges against alleged trespassers. For instance, the former law called for a $50 fine if the accused was found guilty of trespassing but without damaging anything and leaving when asked to. The new law has raised the penalty to $300.
If the offender repeats the crime, the fine shoots up in each case. However, emergency responders, missionaries, meter readers, Girl Scouts, or customers entering a store are not considered trespassers.
Illinois Trespassing Laws
You can serve from 1-6 months in jail and up to a $500 fine if found guilty of criminal trespass to real property in Illinois. It falls under a Class B misdemeanor. This crime can happen either when you remain upon someone’s land after being requested to leave by the owner or occupant or when you enter the property even after being warned not to verbally or through signage.
The signage should be posted in a visible, clear way at the entry point. Purple marks on trees or poles are another warning that the property is off-limits.
Indiana Trespassing Laws
A property owner in the state of Indiana has the right to order you out of his property or deny you access at any moment and for any personal reason. Should you violate this right, he can pursue a trespassing lawsuit against you. However, if you entered accidentally or unknowingly, it is not counted as a criminal offense.
There has to be an intentional or a conscious decision to enter the property where you have no contractual interest even after access has been denied in no uncertain terms. Staying put after being asked to leave amounts to the same crime.
The law covers other aspects, such as intentionally accompanying another person in a vehicle when you understand that he/she is not permitted to drive the vehicle. You are also a trespasser when you ride outside of a train or inside a locomotive, freight car, or passenger car without approval from the lawful authority.
Most criminal trespass cases in Indiana fall under Class A misdemeanor and attract a fine up to $5000, imprisonment, or both.
Iowa Trespassing Laws
Chapter 716 of Iowa Code section 716.7 clearly defines trespassing and goes ahead to cite circumstances that the law applies. When a hunter shoots an animal (deer, for instance) and pursues it onto another property without the owner’s permission, it is considered trespassing.
Entering and/or remaining on someone’s property without permission is trespassing in the state of Iowa. The law doesn’t explain what words signage should bear, or the property owner should verbally tell the intruder to keep him out. The crime constitutes a misdemeanor, but if the incidents surrounding the case are deemed too serious for a simple misdemeanor, it could be elevated to a serious misdemeanor.
Kansas Trespassing Laws
The Kansas trespassing law has the typical definition of trespassing but further explains that “without authorization” means that the permission was either withdrawn or never given when the act was committed.
The properties in question can be a watercraft, aircraft, vehicle, structure, land, or a non-navigable water body that is wide and deep enough to be a passage for ships. Entering or remaining upon any of these properties without consent falls under criminal trespass class B nonperson misdemeanor. But the signage has to be visible and clearly labeled.
Another interesting addition is the action or inaction of blocking/hindering access to a medical facility.
Kentucky Trespassing Laws
The Kentucky trespassing laws are short and easy to understand. Anyone who knowingly enters a property and remains when he is not lawfully allowed is guilty of criminal trespass. Land protected by a fence and which has a trespassing notice visibly posted is also off-limits
There seem to be many trespassing incidents in Kentucky during the hunting season, so the law disallows a hunter to enter private property to retrieve a shot animal until permission is granted. It is also recommended that if you are absolutely unsure of where you are, you should immediately return to a place you are sure of. Most hunting laws favor the landowners.
All forms of trespassing fall misdemeanor, whether it involves someone’s vehicle, land, or home. Criminal trespassing falls under Class B misdemeanor while illegally gaining entry to or refusing to leave a dwelling when asked falls under first degree Class A misdemeanor.
Louisiana Trespassing Laws
No person shall enter and/or remain on property that they have no verbal or written consent to be on. While the law doesn’t provide the exact words signage or verbal communication should bear, there is a provision stating that the communication can be oral or written.
A trespassing conviction is punishable by fine payment and/or serving jail time. The severity of the punishment will escalate with each repetition of the offense.
Louisiana happens to be one of the few states that have already passed trespassing laws touching on the piloting of drones and other unmanned aerial crafts over someone’s property with the intent of filming the property and/or the people within it.
That act amounts to criminal trespassing in Louisiana.
Maine Trespassing Laws
In Maine, entering and remaining on a property when not licensed or privileged to be is trespassing. Entering someone’s house or home without consent is a more serious form of criminal trespassing and attracts a fine of $2000 or a jail term of up to 12 months. It falls under Class D misdemeanor. Other forms of trespass fall under Class E misdemeanor, attracting a fine of $1000 and/or 180 days in prison.
Entering a locked structure or which is marked to keep intruders away, entering a cemetery between half-an-hour after sunset or half-an-hour before sunrise — all these are forms of trespassing in Maine.
The property owners must ensure that signage warns the potential intruders from entering unfenced areas. The signage should be conspicuous enough to catch their attention and at intervals of up to 100 feet and at all vehicular entry points.
Maine citizens love outdoor activities, which is okay as long as those who desire privacy get it. There has to be a middle ground where the rights of landowners and outdoor lovers are balanced. In fact, that s the essence of any trespass legislation.
Maryland Trespassing Laws
In Maryland, the trespass and property laws are quite vaguely defined, but the same basics remain: you cannot enter onto someone’s property without permission. As a property owner, you need to put up signs where they can be seen easily. Paint marks on trees and entrance posts are lawful warning signs, and violators can be charged with a misdemeanor leading to a 90-day imprisonment and /or fine not exceeding $500.
It is a crime in Maryland to enter a property where you had been legally notified to stay away. In the absence of the property owner, designated agents or a local police department can be authorized by the property owner to act on his behalf and keep you away if you have no ownership rights to the property.
Massachusetts Trespassing Laws
In Massachusetts, entering and remaining in or on someone’s building, house, boat, wharf, pier, or enclosed/improved plot of land without the owner’s consent constitutes trespassing. A fine of up to $100 or a jail term of up to 30 days, or both, is the punishment a guilty verdict can incur.
All the prosecutors have to do to prove the intruder’s guilt is show that indeed he entered/remained in a house, dwelling, boat, office, etc., of the plaintiff and that he (the defendant) well-knew he was forbidden to enter or remain on or in that property either by a posted notice or a served court order.
Michigan Trespassing Laws
In Michigan, a person cannot enter/remain in a property without lawful authority or after being notified to leave. There is no language specified for signage notices. But if found guilty of trespassing, the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and could be jailed or fined.
Where trespassing involves felony acts like entering a neighbor’s land unlawfully then intentionally cutting down trees or destroying something, the crime is elevated to criminal trespassing, and its severity would depend on the current value of the destroyed or damaged properties. The trespasser’s criminal history can also influence the appropriate punishment.
A person who dumps or places any type of garbage/filth on another person’s property without permission is considered a trespasser.
Minnesota Trespassing Laws
In Minnesota, the definition of trespassing remains similar to most states, but the laws are more detailed, going as far as defining and elaborating on various circumstances that trespassing is applicable.
The law specifies the details that signage for locked buildings, construction sites, or mining areas should have.
The trespassing charges are either a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor, with most trespassing acts being misdemeanors which typically attract punishment of up to 3 months in jail or a $1000 fine or both. One misdemeanor is when a person lets his domestic animals wander into another person’s property in the same city.
Gross misdemeanor acts are more serious, and the convict faces up to 12 months in jail and/or pays a fine of $3000.
In Minnesota, Gross misdemeanor is a form of trespassing that involves:
- Trespassing on commercial land with domestic animals.
- Knowingly ignoring signage prohibiting trespassing.
- Refusing to stay away from property even after being warned to keep off.
- The same defendant trespassing twice within three years.
- Trespassing at an emergency shelter that provides assistance to children and battered women.
- Trespassing and committing robbery, theft, or burglary.
Mississippi Trespassing Laws
In Mississippi, going into or upon and remaining in or upon a building, premise, land, or any property of another after being notified not to constitute trespassing. The notification can be verbal or written. In the case of signage, it has to be posted where potential intruders can reasonably see it. This can be in or on a building or part of the area in question. The sign must bear the words “No Trespassing.”
If found guilty of trespassing, the misdemeanor convict can be fined up to $250. For a repeat of the same offense within 5 years, the fine shoots up to $500 and a possible jail term up to 30 days.
Missouri Trespassing Laws
A person is considered a trespasser in Missouri when he walks past a clearly labeled sign with “No Trespassing” or disregards a fence, a verbal warning, or purple paint markings on trees on posts that serve to warn intruders to keep off the property. Furthermore, he fails to leave when requested to. This amounts to the first-degree trespass, which is a Class B misdemeanor.
Second-degree trespass involves a property that may not have a fence but which should not be accessed without the owner’s consent. The fine for this crime is up to $200.
Like in many other states, a simple trespassing case might take a new turn if other serious crimes such as vandalism and violence are involved.
Montana Trespassing Laws
In Montana, the privilege to enter and/or remain in or upon property is extended by the owner, who can revoke it at any time, as long as it is communicated. A person can enter and remain in the land if there is no notice prohibiting that act as long as he was invited or licensed or privileged to be there. The law is clear that it is unlawful to enter or remain in any vehicle, shelter, premise, occupied structure, or home if not licensed, privileged, or invited to do so.
The landowner’s failure to put up a notice can sometimes be interpreted to mean he is not against anyone entering and remaining in the property.
Nebraska Trespassing Laws
A person is guilty of first-degree criminal trespass in Nebraska if he, knowing that he is neither licensed nor privileged to do so, enters and/or secretly remains any occupied structure/building or part of it.
When a person has permission to be in a particular portion of a building, but he enters another without consent, he has committed a first-degree criminal trespass. For instance, he had permission to be in the warehouse but sneaks into the manager’s office. The first-degree criminal trespass falls under Class I misdemeanor. Entering an electrical station or a power plant is also classified under the first-degree trespass.
Second-degree criminal trespass is when the intruder received communication not to trespass, saw the “No Trespassing” sign or other warnings, encountered fencing or an enclosure meant to discourage intruders, but disregarded all these.
Nevada Trespassing Laws
Anyone who willfully enters or remains on a land without the landowner’s authority is a trespasser by Nevada’s laws. There has to be a warning, verbally or in the form of signage, for the charge to hold water.
It is also an act of trespass in Nevada to go upon another person’s land with the intention to vex or annoy him, commit an illegal act, and remain there even after you have been asked to leave by the owner.
Trespassing by itself is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of $1000 fine and/or up to 6 months imprisonment in county jail. However, if you are charged with trespass, other charges may accompany it to complicate the case. These include attempted burglary, carrying a firearm or camera, etc. Trespassing with a firearm elevates the charge from a misdemeanor to a class B felony. Trespassing with a camera is considered a gross misdemeanor and could land the convict in jail for up to a year and/or a fine not more than $2000.
New Hampshire Trespassing Laws
According to New Hampshire’s Revised Statutes, specifically Section 635:2, trespassing involves knowingly entering and remaining in any place without permission. Entering an area against a restraining order that the property owner personally served is as well trespassing.
Trespassing in a secured (fenced or enclosed) place with a reasonably visible warning sign is a misdemeanor. If the convict violates the same law again in the future, the charge is upgraded to class B felony if he also damages property worth $1,500.
Allowing livestock on someone else’s land amounts to trespass in New Hampshire. Furthermore, unauthorized entry onto graveyards or tombs carries a felony charge.
New Jersey Trespassing Laws
In New Jersey’s section 2C:18-3 of the trespassing laws, three categories of trespassing are explained. The first one involves a person who enters a building (home, school, etc.) without authorization. It charge is called Unlicensed Entry, and the person could be charged with fourth-degree trespassing. This can result in 6 months in jail and/ or a fine of $1000.
The second category is the Unlawful Peering Into Windows, better known as peeping. The person could be spying or just a curious neighbor playing paparazzi to manufacture gossip, but the act is a fourth-degree criminal offense in New Jersey. The peeping tom may have to serve six months in jail and/or pay a $1000 fine. Talk of the curiosity that killed the cat.
The third category is Defiant Trespasser, which occurs when a person defiantly enters a property despite a restraining order or notice asking him to keep away. The notice can be verbal or signage. The convict could serve a month in jail and/or pay a fine of up to $1000.
New Mexico Trespassing Laws
In New Mexico, trespassing entails:
- Entering upon a property with “private property” signage on the exterior without the owner’s written permission.
- Remaining in private property without the owner’s permission.
- Entering and/or remaining in state lands without permission even if they do not have fences around their perimeter.
- Entering a vehicle through deception or force.
- Removing a “No Trespassing” signage on private property.
Trespassing is a misdemeanor offense in New Mexico, but it can result in the withdrawal of your fishing or hunting licenses if you trespassed while hunting or fishing. You will have to wait for three years to get your license back.
New York Trespassing Laws
Unlicensed entry and/or remaining on a property constitutes trespassing in New York, regardless of the intruder’s intent. But the intruder can get away with the crime if he successfully argues that there was no signage to warn him or that the notice was insufficient. Hence, landowners have to ensure that the signage is well-labeled and conspicuous enough.
Criminal trespass first degree is a class D non-violent felony that results in up to7 years in jail for first offenders, and or fines, probation, community service, or conditional discharge. Criminal trespass second degree is a class A misdemeanor whose punishment is up to a year in jail and/or fine, probation, community service, and a conditional discharge. Criminal trespass third degree is a class B misdemeanor that attracts a 3-month jail term and/or fine, or probation.
North Carolina Trespassing Laws
Trespassing is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, so it is not such a serious charge, but it can be serious depending on other crimes associated with it. A recent Executive Order includes failure to wear a mask while in a public place a form of trespassing.
A peaceful protest could land you in jail if it is proven that you entered the premises without permission and refused to leave when asked to by the security officers.
A first-degree trespassing charge is when the accused entered an enclosed/fenced property. A Second-degree trespassing charge is when the accused entered (or refused to leave) a property with “No Trespassing” or “Private Property” signage.
There is also Domestic Criminal Trespassing which is when a person served with a restraining order still goes ahead to enter their former partner’s property then refuses to leave. It is a serious form of trespassing, in a class 1 misdemeanor category, for it often ends in domestic violence.
North Dakota Trespassing Laws
Trespassing laws in North Dakota are famously short and plain that even a layman can easily understand them. There is no room for misinterpretation, so once charged you cannot wiggle your way out by attempting to twist the meaning of some of the sections. Although short, North Dakota trespassing laws carry some of the stiffest trespassing penalties in the United States.
It is a felony to trespass in a vehicle or any dwelling or top-security premise, while trespassing in an occupied structure or building is a misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstantial evidence provided, the charge could be a Class A misdemeanor or Class C felony.
Ohio Trespassing Laws
In Ohio, criminal trespass involves:
- Knowingly entering and/or remaining on someone’s property, premise, or land.
- Knowingly entering and/or remaining on someone’s property, premise, or land at odd hours.
- Failing or refusing to leave such a place after being given notice or served with a restraining order.
- Failing or refusing to leave even after an oral or signage notification to leave a fenced area.
The laws are in 2911.21 of Ohio’s Statutes. All forms of trespassing are a misdemeanor. Landowners are not supposed to detain anyone caught trespassing, as some overzealous landowners like to do. Instead, they should inform the local authorities to apprehend the trespassers.
Oklahoma Trespassing Laws
It is an act of trespassing in Oklahoma if a person maliciously or willfully enters someone’s property without permission. Signage exhibiting “Property Restricted,” “Keep Out,” “Posted – Keep Out,” or “No Trespassing” is enough notice as long as it is placed conspicuously at all entries to the property.
If you are caught traveling across gardens, yards, or fields, you could later have to part with $250 as a fine if found guilty of trespass. If there was a conspicuous sign, you are guilty as charged even if the place was not fenced. If you damaged a property, attempted to damage property, or stole at the same time you trespassed, the case could take a serious turn.
Oregon Trespassing Laws
In Oregon’s Trespass Statues, all forms of trespassing are considered misdemeanors, no matter the magnitude. At no point would the act of trespassing alone attract felony charges.
Trespassing is simply entering and remaining up on a property without permission. While signage is considered a legal notice, there is no specific language given in the law, so the landowner is at liberty to use the usual languages such as “No Trespassing.”
The type of property and the circumstances surrounding the incident will be considered in each case.
Pennsyvania Trespassing Laws
According to the Pennsylvania Trespass Law, a person is guilty of defiant trespass if he/she comes onto or remains on your property after being requested to stay away or leave.
The property can be a space you rented, so it is not necessarily a property you fully own. You can verbally tell the potential intruder to stay away or leave; you can also use certified mail or hand him a letter in the presence of a witness. You then send a copy of the letter or the mail to a local police department.
Posting a prominent notice around the property is another way to warn the intruder to keep away. Remember that you cannot ask the following people to stay away from the property:
- Someone whose name is on the lease or deed.
- If you and the person rented the property together, but the two of you fell out.
- The tenant who leased the property from you. If you are a landlord, use eviction laws, not trespassing laws.
Rhode Island Trespassing Laws
In Rhode Island’s General Law 11-44-26, a trespasser is anyone who willfully enters and remains on the land without a legitimate purpose or permission. The trespasser must have been forbidden to enter the property by the property. He should also have no legal claim to the property.
The notice can be written or verbal, but the communication has to be precise. It’s not uncommon to hear an offender claiming he didn’t understand the communication.
The penalty for breaking the trespassing laws is a jail term of up to one year or/and a fine not exceeding $1000. If the intruder is in a relationship with the landowner, the conviction can include domestic enhancements, tightening the case.
The court can issue a “No Trespass” order to restrain the offender from visiting the property in the future.
South Carolina Trespassing Laws
In South Carolina, a person only becomes a trespasser after he ignored the notice. Because notices play a significant role in the direction the lawsuit takes, agricultural lands are supposed to post hard-to-miss notices on the four corners of the property.
A notice previously served the intruder forms part of the evidence that builds the case. A verbal warning also amounts to prohibition, so one can be arrested after an oral communication.
Most trespassing incidents in South Carolina fall under the misdemeanor category. The law specifies other situations when the trespassing laws apply. These are:
- Entering another’s property to gather produce, hunt, fish, or cut wood without permission.
- Entering another’s land with an intention to grow marijuana.
- Entering another’s property at night.
South Dakota Trespassing Laws
You are guilty of trespass in South Dakota when you knowingly enter and/or remain in any building or structure surreptitiously, while knowing you are not privileged to do so. You can then be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to South Dakota’s Codified Laws.
Of course, the offender must have been aware of the prohibition notice before the crime was committed. The prosecutor has to prove that a verbal or written communication reached the offender prior to trespassing. The presence of a fence is admissible as evidence against the offender.
The South Dakota trespass laws cover even the use of drones. Operating a drone model with optical, recording, and auditory features over or around your neighbor’s property could have you arrested for trespass.
Even the Peeping Tom is not forgotten in South Dakota. Although covering so much, the South Dakota trespass laws are too few to be turned into a cat and mouse game by the lawyers.
Tennessee Trespassing Laws
In Tennessee, a person is guilty of criminal trespass if he:
- Entered/remained on property they fully knew belonged to someone else and whose permission they didn’t seek.
- Saw but ignored the reasonably conspicuous signage around the property.
- Once on the property, substantially altered the property so that the owner can no longer use it as effectively as before.
- Did not leave up on being requested to.
A 30-day jail term and/or a fine up to $50 is the punishment likely to be passed on the convict if it’s a Class C misdemeanor. Most trespass incidents are classified as Class C misdemeanors.
However, aggravated Criminal Trespass is considered a Class B misdemeanor if it was not committed in a hospital, home, or private/public school property. A Class B misdemeanor attracts up to 180 days in prison.
A Class A misdemeanor would land the wrongdoer in jail for 11 months and 29 days.
Texas Trespassing Laws
Texas has the all-familiar definition of trespass that we have so far learned. If you are charged with trespass in Texas, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
- You were aware that entry on the property was forbidden.
- You disregarded the fencing or other enclosure meant to exclude unauthorized entry or contain livestock.
- You disregarded the well-labeled and visible signage.
- You disregarded the purple paint marks on the trees or posts on the property.
- Your rights to remain there had been revoked, but you didn’t leave.
The crime is a Class B misdemeanor and attracts 180 days in prison and/or a fine of $2,000. Class C misdemeanor occurs when you are caught within 100 feet of freshwater area or trespassing on farmland. The same occurs when you commit a simple criminal trespass while carrying a deadly weapon.
The charge can also be elevated to burglary if it is proven you entered the property with the purpose of stealing, assault, or commit any other felony.
Note that public workers such as firefighters are immune from trespassing laws if they can prove they were at work.
Utah Trespassing Laws
Like in any other state, it is illegal in Utah to trespass on another person’s property. The law specifies that you are not to enter or remain on private property should your purpose be to injure or annoy another person, cause damage to the property therein (even by using graffiti), or commit any crime.
If your intention there is to commit a theft, you could face burglary charges or a felony. You could still be charged with these even if your purpose there was not to commit any of them, as long as your presence there caused someone to think you meant to commit them. Generally, Criminal Trespass is a class B misdemeanor in Utah, attracting a fine of up to $1000 or a jail time of up to six months.
Vermont Trespassing Laws
Vermont’s trespass laws are spelled out in Title 13 Chapter 81 Section 3705 and state that a trespasser who disregards a proper notice then enters and remains on any land/place may be subject to a jail time of up to 3 months and a fine not exceeding $500, or both. The notice can be written or in the form of placards or signs designed and placed to give reasonable notice.
If in the act of trespassing the person also commits burglary, he may be jailed for up to 15 years or fined up to $1000, or both. If the trespasser had a deadly weapon, the imprisonment goes up to 20 years or a fine of $10,000, or both.
Virginia Trespassing Laws
According to the Code of Virginia Title 18.2 Sections 119 – 135, any person who enters or remains on a property/premise without authority is guilty of criminal trespassing, Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment is 12 months in prison or a fine not exceeding $2500.
The consent to enter the property can be written or given orally. If written, the signage should be in a place where it may be reasonably noticed on the premise or portion of the property. Paint marks on trees/posts at each road entrance also qualify as notice.
Trapping, hunting, and fishing are some of the activities that lead to trespassing in Virginia.
Washington Trespassing Laws
The details of Washington’s trespass laws are in Title 9A.52 and states that entering and remaining unlawfully without license or privilege on property constitutes trespassing. A typical, conspicuous “No Trespassing” sign will give the landowner legal recourse should someone intrude.
Criminal trespassing in Washington attracts a fine of $1000 or a jail time up to 90 days if it falls under a misdemeanor. A gross misdemeanor may keep you in jail for a year or pay a fine of $5000, or both, depending on the circumstances. You could successfully or unsuccessfully argue that the building in question was abandoned, or that your entry was necessary for you were serving there to serve the plaintiff with a legal process.
West Virginia Trespassing Laws
In West Virginia, the trespassing laws are covered in Chapter 61 Article 61 – 3B. Trespassing is defined as Unauthorized and willful entry upon, in, or under another’s property. The law recognizes three types of property visitors: licensees, invitees, and trespassers. The first two have legal permission to enter and remain in a property. A licensee can be a salesperson or unexpected guest. An invitee can be a customer or a guest.
Any parcel of land that is fenced, posted, or cultivated is considered private property and can only be accessed by those authorized. As a landowner, you are only allowed to harm the trespasser in self-defense.
The punishment for trespassing falls under misdemeanor in most cases, although it can also be a felony depending on the circumstances. For a first-time offender, the fine is $100-$500. It rises to $500-$1000 for a second time and $1000-$1500 for a third-time offender.
Wisconsin Trespassing Laws
Criminal trespass in Wisconsin is a Class A misdemeanor, and the penalty is up to 9 months behind bars or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. There can be probation also. There has to be a criminal intent behind criminal trespass for the charge to hold water.
The act is defined as entering or remaining on enclosed, cultivated, or undeveloped land belonging to another with no express or implied consent by the owner or current occupant.
An offender can argue successfully that he was there mistakenly or had some intent that was not criminal.
Wyoming Trespassing Laws
Trespassing law in Wyoming states that a person is guilty of trespassing if he enters or remains on/in the land/premise of another person without the latter’s authority, or after being notified to leave.
The crime is punishable with a misdemeanor and may result in up to 6-month imprisonment and a fine of up to $750, or both. The notice can be served in person by the property owner, his agent, or through a reasonably placed sign or posting designed to catch the intruders’ attention.
While trespassing punishments are generally light and bearable, no one in his right senses would want to entangle himself with criminal justice system, regardless of the crime involved.
Remember, the criminal act will remain in your record, which can complicate things for you when applying for a job. Employers take the time to do background checks. It can also affect your volunteer opportunities and lease agreements.
When asked to leave a property, it is best to do so immediately, even if you feel you mean well. When you see a fence, stop and ask yourself why it is there. There are gaps in every law left for common sense to fill.
Minor, solvable conflicts usually end up in court because one or both parties refused to let common sense prevail. Once it ends up in court, an overzealous prosecutor turns the seemingly minor incident into a felony.