Trespassing is the crime of unlawfully entering another person's property without permission or authority to do so. It is also considered trespass to interfere with another’s use of their property, such as enclosing a portion of their land.

You may commit the crime of trespass when you intentionally enter or even remain on the property of another without the permission or the right to do so.

How Can Someone Be Convicted of Trespassing?

In order to be convicted of trespassing the prosecution must prove:

  1. Unlawful entry onto another's land
  2. The trespasser knew that they were not permitted on the land

Some states will not convict trespassers if they entered land that appeared to be unimproved or apparently unused. Thus, landowners with rural properties interested in keeping trespassers out should post signs or put up fences to let people know they are not welcome.

What Are The Consequences of Trespassing?

Trespassing is usually a criminal misdemeanor, and is also a crime from which a victim may recover monetary damages. Common consequences for trespassing include:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Monetary damages paid to the landowner

In some states, the nature of the property determines the seriousness of the offense. For instance, trespassing at a school is a more serious offense than trespassing in a rural field. Additionally, in some states, trespassing on a construction site may increase the charge to a felony. Other crimes that were committed in commission of the original trespass will usually result in a harsher punishment.

What Are Possible Legal Defenses for Trespassing?

The crime of trespass usually requires intent to enter the property of another and the element of intent can be negated if a person did not have actual intent to enter the property or was accidentally pushed or thrown onto the property without intent. Some other potential defenses include:

  • You had the right or permission to be on the property
  • You had consent of owner to be on property
  • You did not intentionally enter the property
  • You did not actually obstruct or interfere with activity on the property

How Can I Remove A Trespasser?

To prevent trespassers from coming on or remaining on your property without permissions, homeowners can post signs indicating private property and also signs that stating trespassers are legally required to leave the property. Physical force, deadly force, or citizen’s arrests cannot be used to remove a trespasser.

If you want to prevent unwanted trespassers off your property, placing perimeter fences will be helpful in limiting access to your property and indicating private property.

What Should I Do If I Am Arrested for Trespassing?

If you are arrested for and accused of trespassing, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to learn about your rights, defenses, and what to expect while dealing with the justice system.