Several property owners, whether in an urban or rural setting, have concerns regarding trespassers on their property. Trespassers can be their fellow neighbor, their neighbor’s children, or a complete stranger. Fortunately, every citizen in the United States who owns real estate has the right to keep out trespassers; however, trespassing laws may differ from state to state.

Every property owner has different views on privacy and property rights. There are some owners who don’t mind people walking across their property, while others don’t tolerate anyone in their property without permission. Here are some of the reasons why property owners are cautious with having strangers in their property.

  • Enjoy privacy in their own real estate
  • Concerns about vandalism, theft, and burglary
  • Protection of livestock from various threats
  • Avoid liability if a stranger is accidentally hurt while in the owner’s property

What Is The Trespassing Law?

The trespassing law has two main types: criminal and civil trespass. It is vital to understand the differences between the two types of trespassing law since criminal penalties and lawsuits can result from trespassing.

Criminal Trespassing: This crime involves an individual knowingly entering or remaining in a private property where he/she have no permission to be. Criminal trespassing is typically a misdemeanor offense; however, the offender can be prosecuted of a felony, especially if the offense resulted in damage to property or persons. The criminal penalties for this offense can include prison time, steep fines, and probation. Severe punishments typically apply to repeat offenders, or those who have been found guilty of criminal trespassing in the past.

Civil Trespassing: This offense is a violation of a property owner’s right to have control over his property. Civil trespassing is a civil law, which means that the property owner must file a lawsuit against the trespasser in court. If the offender is found guilty of this offense, he/she will be responsible for paying damages to the property owner. The offender may also be prohibited from going on or near the property.

What Are Your Legal Rights As A Property Owner?

As a property owner, you can legally prevent other people from entering your property. For instance, you can put up a “No Trespassing” sign on your property, or install a perimeter fence. These are the most common steps taken by property owners to keep unwanted visitors at bay. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who are not deterred by these signs and warnings. So, what are 

The right to throw out trespassers: If you have posted a “no trespassing” sign, it is already a warning that unauthorized individuals are not welcomed. While there are some states that do not require the sign to be put up, others require the signs to include the contact information of the owner for it to be legal. Whatever the case, as a property owner, you have the legal right to ask any uninvited visitor to leave your premises, and by law, he/she must comply. If the trespasser refuses to get out, you can call for police assistance to escort the trespasser off your property. You can also file a misdemeanor charge against the trespasser.

The right to take civil action: There are times when it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against intruders who continually ignore your signs and warnings. However, you have to understand that there are certain instances wherein you cannot file a lawsuit, such as in cases where the authorities are in pursuit of a suspect, or a hunter chasing a wounded animal onto your property.

Criminal trespassing law may vary from one state to another. Despite this, if you are having problems with intruders despite your signs and warnings, you must immediately call for help. You must not tolerate intruders in your property since their crime might escalate to more serious offenses, such as theft, burglary, and homicide.

Kris Lim is a blogger who specializes in criminal trespassing and its legal ramifications. She also contributes her ideas and tips to lawyers and law firms, such as Savitz Law in MA. The criminal lawyers can help individuals who are involved in criminal trespassing offenses.