What is Considered Trespassing in Virginia? (2023)

Perhaps you were walking in a park at night and you were charged with trespass. Or perhaps you were told not to return to a public location and were found at that location after being advised not to trespass. There are a variety of different ways you can be charged with trespass.

In Virginia, trespass can be found under Virginia Code § 18.2-119. The code states the following:

If any person without authority of law goes upon or remains upon the lands, buildings or premises of another, or any portion or area thereof, after having been forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner, lessee, custodian, or the agent of any such person, or other person lawfully in charge thereof, or after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by or at the direction of such persons or the agent of any such person or by the holder of any easement or other right-of-way authorized by the instrument creating such interest to post such signs on such lands, structures, premises or portion or area thereof at a place or places where it or they may be reasonably seen, or if any person, whether he is the owner, tenant or otherwise entitled to the use of such land, building or premises, goes upon, or remains upon such land, building or premises after having been prohibited from doing so by a court of competent jurisdiction by an order issued pursuant to §§ 16.1-253, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-278.2 through 16.1-278.6, 16.1-278.8, 16.1-278.14, 16.1-278.15, 16.1-279.1, 19.2-152.8, 19.2-152.9 or § 19.2-152.10 or an ex parte order issued pursuant to § 20-103, and after having been served with such order, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Video) What Is Criminal Trespassing

What is the Meaning of Virginia Code § 18.2-119?

What is Considered Trespassing in Virginia? (1)

Trespassing in Virginia means entering someone else’s property without permission, or remaining on property after being told to leave. Being told to leave can occur through a variety of communications, including personal invitations, oral notice, or public signs. The Commonwealth has to prove that the person alleged to be trespassing was given notice not to be on the property in order to obtain a conviction under this code section.

(Video) Fight Virginia Trespassing Charges

What are the Penalties for Trespassing in Violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-119?

Trespassing under Virginia Code § 18.2-119 is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means it is punishable with up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2500. There are a variety of trespass laws that are similar to Virginia Code § 18.2-119, but will depend on the location of the alleged trespass. For example, there are laws specific to trespassing around churches, schools or while hunting. Each law has its own specifications and elements that the Commonwealth must prove before securing a conviction.

(Video) Trespassing Under Virginia Code § 18.2-119 and Norfolk Ordinance 29-48 Q & A with Ramsey Alnaif

If you have been charged with trespassing, call the Fairfax trespassing lawyers at Greenspun Shapiro PC.

(Video) NO TRESPASSING: When, Why and Where to Post Signs (or Purple Paint) On Your Property


What is considered trespassing in Virginia? ›

What is the Meaning of Virginia Code § 18.2-119? Trespassing in Virginia means entering someone else's property without permission, or remaining on property after being told to leave. Being told to leave can occur through a variety of communications, including personal invitations, oral notice, or public signs.

What are the three types of trespass? ›

Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels, and trespass to land.

How do you prove someone is trespassing? ›

Generally, in order to show that the defendant is liable for trespass to land, the plaintiff must show:
  1. The defendant entered onto the land;
  2. The land belonged to another individual;
  3. The defendant did not have consent to enter; and.
  4. Damages.
Jun 2, 2021

What is the law on no trespassing signs in Virginia? ›

195. § 18.2-119.1. Validity of signs forbidding trespass; penalty. If any person knowingly and intentionally posts No Trespassing signs on the land of another without the permission of a person authorized to post such signs on that land, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

How do you charge someone with trespassing in Virginia? ›

There are several ways that a person can be charged with trespassing:
  1. Knowingly entering land without permission.
  2. Remaining on another's property after being told to leave.
  3. Going onto property without permission where no trespassing signs are posted.
  4. Coming onto property in violation of a protective order.

Who can issue a trespass notice? ›

Who is allowed to give someone a trespass notice? If you are the “occupier” of the property (eg, the tenant, licensee or owner), you are entitled to give someone a trespass notice or warning to someone who you do not want on the property.

What are the elements to prove trespass to land? ›

What are the elements of trespass to land?
  • Lawful possession. The plaintiff must have lawful possession of the land at the time of the interference, and that possession must be exclusive. ...
  • Direct interference. ...
  • Fault. ...
  • Necessity. ...
  • Consent. ...
  • Implied licence. ...
  • Inevitable accident. ...
  • Retention and re-entry of land.
Oct 10, 2022

What is an example of trespass? ›

Trespass by interference with the land of another :

Any interference with another's land is considered to be a constructive entry and trespass. Example- throwing stones or materials over neighboring land, it may also be a gas or invisible fumes.

How does the law define trespass? ›

Trespass is the unlawful presence of a person on land in the possession of another, including: • wrongfully setting foot on or riding or driving over it. • taking possession of it or expelling the person in possession (also known as squatting)

What is the burden of proof in trespass? ›

Burden of proof? P must prove facts of direct interference of D's acts. D must then show either lack of intention or negligence or that the act was involuntary. In negligent trespass P must establish D directly caused act and D must then establish lack of fault.

What are the Defences to trespass to person? ›

  • Self-defense or defense of property: Note that the defense/reply should be proportionate-Lane v. ...
  • Lawful Authority: e.g. the police may confine a suspect. ...
  • Parental Authority: Section 295 of the Criminal code. ...
  • Consent. ...
  • Lawful Arrest.
  • Necessity: In F v. ...
  • Exturpi causa non Oritur action[4].
Jan 19, 2018

What are the elements of trespass to person? ›

The three torts that emerged from the concept of trespass to the person — assault, battery and false imprisonment are actionable per se — that is without proof of damage (although if the wrongful act, does result in injury, damages can be recovered for that injury as well).

What is no trespassing private property? ›

This Private Property No Trespassing Sign identifies private property and is used to deter trespassers from unlawfully entering a private property or premises. A No Trespassing Sign is a helpful resource to aid in the protection of your wellbeing and property from unwelcomed visitors.

Can you shoot someone for trespassing in Virginia? ›


As a general rule, Virginia law does not allow deadly force to prevent an entry into a home or dwelling. Non deadly force on the other hand may be used to prevent an unlawful entry into a dwelling.

What is the purple paint law in Virginia? ›

This legislature means that homeowners can legally signal to hikers, hunters, and others to stay off their private property. If a person ignores the purple marking, they can legally be held responsible for trespassing on private property. It works just as a sign works to indicate that the land is individually owned.

Can the police prosecute for trespassing? ›

Trespass alone is a matter of civil law, which means that the police have no power to arrest you for it; police may nonetheless help landowners remove trespassers from land. Trespass is entering – or putting property on – land that belongs to someone else, without their permission.

Can you be prosecuted for trespassing? ›

Criminal prosecution could only arise if you trespass and damage property. Trespassing with the intent to reside may be a criminal offence under some circumstances. It is also a criminal offence to trespass on railway land and sometimes on military training land.

Can you use force to remove a trespasser in Virginia? ›

You may use force against a trespasser if the trespasser refuses to leave after being ordered to go. However, the force involved may not endanger human life or cause great bodily harm. It is also illegal to brandish a deadly weapon to defend your personal property.

How long does a no trespassing order last in Virginia? ›

§ 161.705 How long will a written trespass notice remain in effect? A written trespass notice will remain in effect for the same action identified in that written notice for a period of one year from the date of receipt of the written notice by the trespasser.

How can I stop my neighbors from trespassing? ›

What remedies are available for trespass? The two key remedies available to you are obtaining an injunction and damages. An injunction is useful as it requires the trespasser to stop the trespass. Therefore an injunction could be obtained to require your neighbour to remove the foundations.

How do I get a no trespass order in Virginia? ›

You may write your own letter or use the following Trespass Notice Form. Make a copy of the letter/notice for your records. Use only one form per person. • Mail a copy of the letter certified/return receipt requested to the offending party. Save your receipt (proof of mailing).

What are the five essential elements to trespass to land? ›

The elements of trespass are: (1) the plaintiff's ownership or control of the property; (2) the defendant's intentional, reckless, or negligent entry onto the property; (3) lack of permission for the entry or acts in excess of permission; (4) harm; and (5) the defendant's conduct was a substantial factor in causing the ...

What are the 4 property rights? ›

Right to possession. Right to control. Right to use and quiet enjoyment. Right to allow others a right to use (licenses and leases)

Does an action for trespass requires proof of damage? ›

Trespasses may be claimed without proof of damage. However, a technical trespass may merit nominal damages only. Actual loss must be shown in order for any significant level of damages by way of compensation to be granted. A trespass may be continuing, if the incursion continues.

What is an example of indirect trespass? ›

Examples of trespass resulting from indirect entry include: depositing dirt or debris on another's property. b. diverting a river or surface waters across another's property.

What is the differences between trespass and nuisance? ›

Trespass is direct physical interference with the plaintiff's possession of land through some material or tangible object while nuisance is an injury to some right accessory to possession but no possession itself.

Can trespass be unintentional? ›

The general principle is that a trespass to the person must be a direct and intentional act, while if it was indirect or unintentional the tort of negligence is more appropriate, as established in Letang v Cooper.

Do police prosecute trespassing? ›

Trespass alone is a matter of civil law, which means that the police have no power to arrest you for it; police may nonetheless help landowners remove trespassers from land. Trespass is entering – or putting property on – land that belongs to someone else, without their permission.

Which of the following is an example of trespass? ›

Solution. Jim hunts on David's land without David's permission. While there, Jim shoots one of David's cows, mistaking the cow for a deer.

Is intimidation illegal in Virginia? ›

It shall be unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of that person having exercised or enjoyed, or on account of that person having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by the ...

What is reasonable force trespass? ›

You can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others if a crime is taking place inside your home. This means you can: protect yourself 'in the heat of the moment' - this includes using an object as a weapon. stop an intruder running off - for example by tackling them to the ground.

Does Virginia have a quiet title law? ›

Quiet Title Law

Virginia law strives to protect persons with good title to property from being subjected to future claims against that title. Are you currently in a dispute over ownership of a parcel of land or valuable personal property? Is there someone threatening to jeopardize your title to your land?

What colors mean no trespassing? ›

To save money and to make money, that's why. Purple paint on boundary line trees or fence posts means NO TRESPASSING, just as a green light means go and a red light means stop.

What color lights are legal in Virginia? ›

All vehicles or other mobile equipment not otherwise in this article required to be equipped with specified lights shall carry at least one or more white lights to the front and a red light to the rear visible in clear weather from a distance of not less than 500 feet to the front and rear of such vehicles.

What is legal notice for trespassing? ›

Legal notice for trespassing must contain these essential points: Name, description, and place of residence of the person or persons. Name, description, and place of residence of the sender of the notice. Details of the cause of action.

What is required to be proved for the action of the trespass to the plaintiff? ›

An act does not constitute trespass to person unless it is done with intention. Thus intention is the chief criteria for trespass to person. If there is an intention behind committing a trespass then it is actionable per se and the plaintiff need not proof any specific or particular damage.

How do I legally ban someone from my property? ›

A property owner can tell the individual in person, preferably with a witness, that he is banned, or notify him by certified letter with a copy sent to the local police department. Violating the banning order could result in a disorderly persons charge.


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