Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Is trespassing really that serious? Compared to more severe offenses, like burglary, you may not think trespassing sounds like a big deal. But it’s important not to take it lightly.
While being charged with trespassing results in a misdemeanor in many instances, in some cases it can become a felony. If you or someone you know has been accused of this offense, here’s what to know.
What Is Trespassing?
The legal definition of “trespass,” according to Cornell Law School, is the “act of knowingly entering another person’s property without permission.”
“Knowingly” is the key component here, as it implies intent to enter the property, whether it’s land, a building or a vehicle. If you entered a space knowing you didn’t have permission or remained there after becoming aware you didn’t have permission, you could be accused of trespassing.
Posted Warning Signs
Another crucial part of many states’ trespassing laws involves notifying or warning would-be trespassers. Property owners can convey this message in several ways.
The simplest is to lock all doors and fences. Some property owners will go a step further and display “no trespassing” signs. If it’s a public place, signs should state the hours the property is open to the public.
How to Appeal
If someone feels they’ve been wrongly convicted of trespassing, they can consider submitting an appeal. Keep in mind there is usually a time limit for appeals and they will need to be made in writing.
Proof of permission to be on the property or photos showing a lack of appropriate signage could help with a successful appeal. The intent of the accused may also come into play.
Do you need help dealing with trespassing charges?