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What Are the Consequences of Ignoring a No Trespassing Sign?

Trespassing can result in criminal charges.
Owners have the right to restrict access to their property.
Article Details
  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Property owners often have the right to both privacy and to prevent public access to their property. In order to assert these rights, a property owner may post a no trespassing sign. Although the definition of trespass may change by jurisdiction, it generally includes interference with possessory rights in property. The consequences of ignoring such a sign can lead to criminal charges against the trespasser and/or civil liability for any damages caused by the trespasser while on the property.

When someone intentionally trespasses on the property of another, despite the presence of a no trespassing sign, the individual may be liable through the tort of trespass. In most jurisdictions, the trespasser is clearly liable when the trespass was intentional; however, jurisdictions differ on their treatment of unintentional trespass. When a person trespasses without intending to do so, the court may look at whether or not the trespass was negligent as well as the actions of the trespasser while on the land to determine whether or not he or she is liable. When a no trespassing notice was posted, the court may also look at how prominent the sign was and whether the trespasser should have seen the sign. If found liable, the trespasser may be ordered to pay monetary damages for the act of trespassing.

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In addition to possible civil liability for ignoring a no trespass sign, a trespasser may face criminal charges. In many jurisdictions, entering the property of another without permission or in violation of a no trespassing notice may be a criminal offense. Often, the presence of the sign alone can make the action a crime and therefore subject the trespasser to criminal penalties.

The criminal penalties for ignoring a no trespassing sign will depend on the jurisdiction. In most cases, trespassing is considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is typically punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a term of probation. In addition, court costs and fines as well as restitution for any damages to the property may be ordered by the judge.

A property owner who wishes to protect his or her property against trespassers should consult local ordinances or laws before posting signs. In many jurisdictions, certain colors are associated with no trespassing, which allow the property owner to paint trees or tie cloth of that color on the trees or fences to warn potential violators to stay away. No trespassing signs may also be used and should be placed prominently to assure that they can be seen at potential points of entry.

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Discuss this Article

honeybees
Post 3

If you live in an area where you want to put up some no trespassing signs, I would do it sooner than later. It may not help keep everyone off your property, but it certainly can help warn people.

It is also a good idea to make sure your signs are able to be seen. Sometimes areas can get very overgrown and the signs become hidden by trees or brush.

The effects of weather can also fade the lettering depending on the type of sign you have, so it is a good idea to replace them every so often as needed.

Mykol
Post 2

I see a lot of no trespassing signs in the country. They might be posted on trees, along fence rows or on utility poles. Some of them are solid metal signs, but most of them are paper signs you buy at most any hardware or retail store.

I did not know that certain colors were associated with this no trespassing rule, and that you could just mark this off by painting a tree a certain color.

If you had large pieces of land that you wanted to clearly show there were no trespassing laws in force, this would be a convenient way to do it.

myharley
Post 1

I am very familiar with No Trespassing signs around my area of the country. We live in the country where there is a lot of timber. Because there are so many deer hunters around, it is not uncommon to see many property signs with No Trespassing posted on them.

I am sure this helps to keep unwanted people off of your property, but there are always those who try to push the limits, or claim they never saw the sign. It still offers you some protection as a property owner and evidence if you ever have to pursue the matter further.

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