Keep Out! The Basics of Trespassing Laws

If you’d like to protect your land, here are some things you’ll want to know about trespassing.
By Troy Griepentrog
April 24, 2008
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Signs such as this may or may not impact your rights as a landowner. It depends on the laws in your state.
ISTOCKPHOTO/JENNY BONNER


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People have different views on privacy and property rights. Some don’t mind if people walk across their land. Others don’t want anyone on their property without permission. (For more on this view, read No Trespassing Signs and Modern Day Monkey Wrenching.) But, those who are concerned about trespassers list multiple reasons:

1. They enjoy their privacy.

2. Concerns about theft and vandalism.

3. They want to protect livestock from hunters or other threats. Many livestock owners now have concerns about biosecurity. That includes disease spread unintentionally and bioterrorism (causing disease and disrupting the food supply).

4. Avoiding liability if a stranger is hurt accidentally while on your property.

Protect Your Property

If you want to keep unwanted guests off your acreage, start by installing a good perimeter fence. Casual passersby most likely won’t climb over a wire-mesh fence and are even less likely to crawl through barbed wire. Limit access points, too — fewer gates and driveways can reduce the number of people who drive onto the property.

You can post signs to make people aware that your property is private. Without signs that say “posted” or “no trespassing,” trespassing is still illegal (though this varies by state, too). However, the signs may inadvertently keep away certain people you want to see. In some instances, you can include “by written permission only” on the signs to allow legal access to propane delivery drivers, trash pickup crews or others you do business with. Signs often must include contact information of the landowner. Required spacing of the signs varies by state.

In some states hunters have a right to pursue injured game onto another person’s property without permission.

Removing a Trespasser

Even if you don’t have signs posted, trespassers are legally required to leave immediately if you tell them to do so. You can’t use physical force to remove someone from your property, and you also cannot make a citizen’s arrest to detain a trespasser. But you can call law enforcement to request that they remove or arrest a trespasser. If there are no other charges (theft, assault, etc.), trespassing fines usually are low — $50 to $500.

In some states, you can use force (even lethal force) to remove someone from your house, but these laws do not apply to trespassers on your land or in outbuildings.

The bottom line on trespassing laws is that they vary significantly from state to state. You can find a brief overview of some state’s regulations by clicking here. Some states have detailed information about trespassing laws online. For links to your state government, check the Law Library of Congress site.

No Trespassing Signs and Modern Day Monkey Wrenching







Post a comment below.

 

Shirley in NC_2
4/18/2009 5:29:23 PM
In my area unless you plant a thorny rose hedge the people think they can do what they please and they own everything. I have found no type of fence keeps people at bay, they just pull out their wire cutters and cut the fence. They hunt on the backside of the farm, kill our cows when they just want to shot. They do not uphold the laws where it is posted property at the court house. And the Police are no help even when humans are the targets that are getting shot at. The only results I get is when I call the county lawyer and tell him If I have to take this to court to get results, I am suing you to for the local PD not doing their job. My present beef is with 2 PRE teen getting guns for Christmas and have killed 2 cows 3 if you count to calf in the belly, while "just target practicing" on their own property. All I can think of is I need the clothes that the PD wears to be safe to walk across the farm this summer when those 2 bother - the oldest ones 12 are just 'target practicing' and 'Just a shot - ting at a tree' are out of school. Prays have been sent for summer school and sleep away camps to be their next present.

cordwoodguy
4/12/2009 12:02:21 PM
THINGS ABOUT TRESSPASSING IN MY REGION. [1]ITS ILLEGAL TO DENY PEOPLE ACCESS TO WATER [2]CAN`T DENY ACCESS TO SURVEYORS [3]SOMETIMES PEOPLE TRY TO CLAIM OCEAN BEACHES AS PRIVATE...BUT THEY USUALLY ONLY OWN TO HIGHWATER MARK. [4]NEVER POST A SIGN "NO HUNTING" ON YOUR PROPERTY.IF YOU ARE SEEN HUNTING THEREAFTER ON YOUR OWN POSTED PROPERTY YOU CAN BE CHARGED IN MY REGION. [5]THEY POST SIGNS EVER 100' OR SO TO MAKE THEM OBVIOUS. [6]BE CAUTIOUS WHEN TELLING PEOPLE TO GET OFF YOUR LAND...I KNOW OF CASES WHERE THEY CAME BACK AND SHOT UP THE LANDOWNERS HOME AND CAR. [7]MY BROTHER OWNS LAND AND ANOTHER PROPERTY OWNER HAS GATED THE ROAD THUS BLOCKING MY BROTHER ACCESS TO HIS LAND.THE NEIGHBOUR IS VERY AGRESSIVE AND HAS ATTACKED PEOPLE HE FINDS TRESSPASSING.HE CAUGHT MY BROTHER THERE ONCE ON THE ROAD AND ASKED HIM WHERE HE WAS GOING AND WHAT HE WAS DOING ON HIS LAND.MY BROTHER TOLD HIM HE OWNED LAND THERE AND WAS ALLOWED ACCESS AND THE ROAD IS BLOCKED ILLEGALLY.MY BROTHER SHOULD HAVE DEMANDED A KEY. [8]SOMEONE SQUATTING ON YOUR LAND OVER 20 YEARS CAN HAVE A LEGAL CLAIM TO IT. [9]THE SAME THING GOES THAT IF A NEIGHBOUR PUTS UP A FENCE ON YOUR PROPERTY AND YOU DON`T TAKE NOTICE AFTER 20 YEARS HE CAN LEGALLY CLAIM THIS AS HIS. [10]THE GUY YOU THINK IS TRESSPASSING MIGHT HAVE DEEDED ACCESS. [11]ETC CORDWOODGUY PS:YOU CAN LIVE ON THE NICEST,PRETTIEST PROPERTY IN THE WORLD BUT BAD NEIGHBOURS CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE LIVING THERE.








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