Trespass is a criminal or civil offense that involves entering someone’s land without consent. Park rangers, police and other law enforcement agencies enforce criminal trespass. To enforce civil trespass, the landowner must initiate the action. If the trespasser caused any damages to the property, the property owner can seek damages.
Do Your Intentions Matter?
When it comes to criminal and civil trespass, your intentions do matter. Say that you’re on a walk and you take a shortcut through a field. You find out, while on the land, that the owner doesn’t want you to cut through. With this knowledge in mind, you leave his or her land. Are you guilty of trespassing? If the land is open, then you can reasonably say that you didn’t know that you weren’t allowed to cross through the land. This is not trespassing.
If you had no intention of committing a crime and did not know that you weren’t allowed on the property, then odds are you won’t face any trespassing charges. Now, if the land was fenced or if there were no trespassing signs present, then you cannot argue that you didn’t know that you didn’t have permission.
Do You Need Consent?
Consent is important when it comes to trespassing law. Generally, to use private land, you need consent from the owner. You can have express consent or implied consent. Express consent is when the landowner tells you that you’re allowed on the land. He or she may express it verbally or through writing. Implied consent may come from the owner’s conduct. For instance, if there is an open stretch of land that the owner often allows the public to use for recreation if you were to join your friends on the land, then you might be able to argue implied consent.
Another type of implied consent occurs when there is an emergency. If there is an emergency on someone’s land and there is no owner present to give his or her consent, you are allowed to enter the property. For instance, if you hear someone calling for help within a building and enter it without express permission, you can argue implied consent.
Whether you are involved in a criminal or civil trespass case, you should discuss your options with a real estate lawyer. The laws can be complex and difficult to navigate on your own. Set up a consultation with a real estate lawyer in Allentown, PA, like from Hoegen & Associates, P.C., as soon as possible.