Trespassing occurs when a person intentionally goes onto someone else's property without permission or doesn't leave someone else's property after being told to do so. It's important to take note that, typically, accidentally going onto another's property is not considered trespassing. With that being said, a clearly posted "no trespassing" sign or a fence may be used in legal action to prove that the person knowingly entered someone else's property.
Trespassing is usually a violation of a state's civil as well as criminal laws. Virginia has a variety of criminal trespass laws, which are separated by circumstances surrounding the act of the trespassing. For example, Virginia has different laws addressing trespassing on a cemetery at night versus trespassing on a church or school property.
Virginia Criminal Trespass Laws at a Glance
When you want to find the answer to a legal question, it's important to read the relevant laws. But it's also beneficial to read a summary of the laws in plain English because it can help you better understand those laws. In the following chart, you can find an overview of Virginia criminal trespass laws as well as links to relevant statutes.
A person is prohibited from entering on someone else's property without permission or staying on the property after being told to leave.
Violating one of Virginia's criminal trespass laws will generally result in a misdemeanor charge. Depending on the circumstances, however, the "class" of the misdemeanor will vary. For specific charges, please see the statutes listed above.
Misdemeanors are generally punishable as follows:
- Class 1 misdemeanor: up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Class 2 misdemeanor: up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Class 3 misdemeanor: a fine of up to $500.
- Class 4 misdemeanor: a fine of up to $250.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Virginia Criminal Trespass Laws: Related Resources
For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links below.
Arrested for Violating Virginia Criminal Trespass Laws? Contact a Lawyer
Even though criminal trespass doesn't seem like a very serious crime, having a criminal record can nevertheless have a negative impact on both your personal and professional life. If you've been arrested for criminal trespass or any other criminal offense in Virginia, it's a good idea to speak with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and learn about your options.