Trespassing is an illegal act in which a person accesses property that is owned and protected as the property of someone else. There are essentially three types of trespass that can be committed, with numerous specific forms of each type. A trespass to a person is a form of illegal action in which one person intrudes upon the personal space of another person, such as through violent contact or unlawful restraint. There are also forms of trespass against the personal property of another person, such as the land or building owned by another person. Trespassing can also be extended to property that is not necessarily physical in nature, such as a computer trespass.
While trespassing is often considered to be the unwanted presence of one person in another person’s home or property, it can take several other forms as well. A trespass against a person is an act in which one person is physically violating the personal space — rather than property — of another person. Assault, for example, is a form of trespassing against a person, as is the unlawful detainment, restraint, or imprisonment of one person by another.
One of the most common forms of trespassing involves the property of another person. Someone who illegally enters the home or land of another person, as long as there is some means established to prevent entrance, is committing a trespass. Similarly, a trespass to chattels, which is a legal term for property other than real estate, involves one person damaging or interfering with the property of another. Someone who breaks chattels owned by another person, such as a television or computer, could therefore be liable for trespassing as a civil charge.
Trespassing can also occur in less physical environments, such as instances in which a person may be accused of a computer trespass. This type of trespass does not mean that someone has physically used another person’s computer, though that can be an element of it, but instead indicates a person has gained unauthorized access to a computer system or information. Computer trespassing is typically utilized for cases in which a person is charged as a computer hacker, since he or she has usually gained access to another system in an unauthorized manner. A trespass can also be one element of a larger criminal or civil suit, such as a burglary that may result in both criminal trespass and larceny charges.