You might think that to be charged with trespassing, you’d have to make a conscious decision to break the law and impinge upon private property that doesn’t belong to you.
In reality, lots of people get hit with this type of charge accidentally, and yet the ramifications can be just as serious.
To demonstrate how this is possible, let’s go through a few unexpected scenarios and causes of trespassing charges which might take you by surprise.
The Owner Didn’t Adequately Indicate That The Property Is Private
Property boundaries can be confusing things, especially in the case that they are so large that it’s not feasible or aesthetically desirable to fence them in and thus create an unquestionable line separating them from public spaces.
As such you might wander onto private property without meaning to, simply because the owner wasn’t clear about where the borders lie. So it isn’t just international borders and offenses like drug trafficking that this applies to.
The good news is that most states require landowners to use either physical boundaries or at least signage to clear this up. If no such warning is given, or it was decayed or obscured, trespassers will usually get off easily.
You Did Something Without Prior Permission
Members of the public can of course enter privately owned properties freely in many cases. However, you may be charged with trespassing or criminal trespass if you do something unauthorized while present.
For example, if you entered private land that’s open to the public and then cut down a tree or hunted without a license, this would fall under criminal trespass.
The same goes for entering in a motor vehicle where doing so is not permitted, and it even applies to things like attempting to interfere with vending machines at rest areas. So there are a lot of things covered by trespass that are more to do with your actions when on private property, and not just crossing geographic boundaries.
You Accidentally Enter The Wrong Vacation Rental
You will need to consult a lawyer on criminal trespassing if you find yourself charged after entering a holiday property that isn’t assigned to you.
The same goes for hotel rooms, of course, since while you have the right to use a privately owned space which you’ve rented fair and square, if it isn’t officially yours then sparks may fly.
Likewise, if you stay longer than is allowed, you could land up in hot water. This type of confusion is more common in the era of online booking, especially in the case that several different systems are involved in orchestrating everything and mistakes may happen somewhere in the chain.
You Remain In A Public Park After It Closes
It’s forgivable to think that public spaces, such as parks, are owned by everyone and therefore not covered by any laws of trespassing.
However, the reality is that if these areas have specific opening hours, and if they are cordoned off by fencing, then lingering beyond this point will be a breach of the rules.
The Bottom Line
The main point to note regarding charges of trespassing is that this really only applies if there’s clear intent on the part of the perpetrator, or if it’s provable that they knew that what they were doing was classable as trespass.
If you trespass accidentally, in any of its forms, then you will likely not be convicted of any charges that are brought against you.
However, that doesn’t mean that being charged with trespassing on a property will be resolved quickly or easily. Having an experienced lawyer to defend you against this charge will resolve everything as soon as possible.