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The legal definition of this term refers to a large variety of illegal offenses that can be against a property or persons. In relation to Real Estate Laws, trespassing means to enter a property without the consent of the property owner. While there are criminal trespass laws, there are also civil trespass laws to adhere too. The criminal trespassing laws are enforced by local police, county sheriffs and state rangers. Civil trespass laws are executed by a private property owner by starting a lawsuit in the local court system to receive money from the trespasser for any damages they caused. While criminal charges are typically filed in such a case, they are not always present.


Whether it be a criminal trespass or a civil trespass, the person trespassing still has to know that they are doing so for charges or a lawsuit to stick. There is a thing called “level of intent” that is factored into all trespass cases. If there is a fence or clear signs that state “no trespassing”, then the prosecution is likely. The prosecution is also expected if the offending party was told to leave by the property owner but refused or ignored the request to withdraw. The prosecution is not likely when there are no signs, no fence; the land is open, then they were not told to leave immediately. The prosecution is also not acceptable if the offending party leaves quickly and does really impact the property owner’s use of the land.

Expressed Permission & Implied Permission

A property owner can consent to entry to the land in either writing or do it verbally. Implied permission is consent that is given by the property owner’s actions, custom or even from certain circumstances. Emergency workers such as paramedics also can enter the property to save a life or prevent serious injury. Permission may also be implied if the property owner is not available to give permission.

Odd Limited Protection For Trespassers

As odd as it sounds there is limited protection for people who are trespassing. There are two circumstances to this. The first is that they knew the person or the person trespassed frequently and posed no immediate threat to the property owner, but the owner injured them anyways. Basically, don’t shoot a trespasser unless you have to defend yourself or your family. The other circumstance is an unsafe condition on the property that the trespasser was injured by. The property owner can have liability in both of this situations.

What Is An Intentional Trespass Injury

It’s not just the matter of shooting a trespasser. You might also have placed booby traps such as bear traps and other dangerous obstacles. It can also be considered intentional injury by hand or with a tool like a hammer or a baseball bat. So deliberate injury to a trespasser is just that; you intended to hurt them or at least scare them but hurt them anyways. This is another instance of “level of intent.”

Unintentional Injury To A Trespasser

This is caused by a hazard on the property. A child trespassing on a property with a pool could drown or be hurt by falling into the pool and this is the liability of the homeowner to prevent such instances. Another hazard would be trash or other debris in the yard that the trespasser could be hurt by. In a nutshell, unintentional injury during a trespass is exactly that. You, the property owner, did not actually intend for them to get hurt.

Preventing Trespassing Legally

To start, post signs that say “private property” and “no trespassing” on the outskirts of your property. You can also install security cameras in the area of your property believed to be traveled by the trespassers. Sometimes the cameras themselves are a deterrent to trespassers. If the cameras don’t do it then you will have a video of them trespassing and can then file criminal trespass charges against them at a later date. The only catch is that to install video cameras you need to check your state and local laws on filming before installing them. If you have any further questions or concerns about trespass laws concerning real estate, just contact an attorney you trust. They should be able to tell you anything you need or want to know.