The Law Firm of

Erin L.T. Ranney, PLLC

Attorney At Law

 
Phone:   (804) 318-1151  or (804) 212-5252
             
 

Taking criminal and traffic defense cases in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Richmond, Henrico, New Kent, Hanover, Caroline, Hopewell, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Emporia, Greensville, Sussex, and across Virginia

 

Providing counsel on family law matters, including divorce, custody, visitation, support, and adoption

 

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Criminal Law Spotlight - July 2016

Trespassing, and Crimes involving Peace and Order


Trespassing

People get very upset when their property rights are infringed upon. As such, it is smart to know what the law is with regards to trespassing in general, and in specific places. There are also certain crimes that violate the right to a "peaceful and orderly society," which have broad reaches. I will focus on the more commonly charged ones.  Here are the main Virginia Code Sections:


Trespassing:

18.2-119. Trespass after having been forbidden to do so; penalties.

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  16.1-25316.1-253.116.1-253.416.1-278.2 through 16.1-278.616.1-278.816.1-278.1416.1-278.1516.1-279.119.2-152.819.2-152.9 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. This section shall not be construed to affect in any way the provisions of  18.2-132 through 18.2-136.

(Code 1950, 18.1-173; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1982, c. 169; 1987, 
cc. 625, 705; 1991, c. 534; 1998, cc. 569684; 2011, c. 195.)


 18.2-120. Instigating, etc., such trespass by others; preventing service to persons not forbidden to trespass.

If any person shall solicit, urge, encourage, exhort, instigate or procure another or others to go upon or remain upon the lands, buildings, or premises of another, or any part, portion or area thereof, knowing such other person or persons to have been forbidden, either orally or in writing, to do so by the owner, lessee, custodian or other person lawfully in charge thereof, or knowing such other person or persons to have been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted on such lands, buildings, premises or part, portion or area thereof at a place or places where it or they may reasonably be seen; or if any person shall, on such lands, buildings, premises or part, portion or area thereof prevent or seek to prevent the owner, lessee, custodian, person in charge or any of his employees from rendering service to any person or persons not so forbidden, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950,  18.1-173.1; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)


18.2-125. Trespass at night upon any cemetery.

If any person, without the consent of the owner, proprietor or custodian, go or enter in the nighttime, upon the premises, property, driveways or walks of any cemetery, either public or private, for any purpose other than to visit the burial lot or grave of some member of his family, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, 18.1-181; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)

18.2-128. Trespass upon church or school property.

A. Any person who, without the consent of some person authorized to give such consent, goes or enters upon, in the nighttime, the premises or property of any church or upon any school property for any purpose other than to attend a 
meeting or service held or conducted in such church or school property, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person, whether or not a church member or student, to enter upon or remain upon any church or school property in violation of (i) any direction to vacate the property by a person authorized to give such 
direction or (ii) any posted notice which contains such information, posted at a place where it reasonably may be seen. Each time such person enters upon or remains on the posted premises or after such direction that person refuses to vacate such property, it shall constitute a separate offense.

A violation of this subsection shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, except that any person, other than a parent, who violates this subsection on school property with the intent to abduct a student shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

C. For purposes of this section: (i) "school property" includes a school bus as defined in § 46.2-100 and 
(ii) "church" means any place of worship and includes any educational building or community center owned or leased by a church.

(Code 1950,  18.1-182; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1988, c. 497; 1989, 
c. 680; 1993, c. 961; 1994, c. 326; 1995, cc. 493642; 1997, c. 779.)

18.2-131. Trespass upon licensed shooting preserve.

It shall be unlawful for any person to trespass on a licensed shooting preserve. Any person convicted of such trespass shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor and shall be responsible for all damage. Owners or keepers of dogs trespassing on preserves shall be responsible for all damage done by such dogs.

(Code 1950, 29-49; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)


18.2-132. Trespass by hunters and fishers.

Any person who goes on the lands, waters, ponds, boats or blinds of another to hunt, fish or trap without the consent of the landowner or his agent shall be deemed guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950,  29-165; 1954, c. 155; 1962, c. 469; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)


NEW: 

18.2-132.1.  Trespass by hunters using dogs; penalty.

Any person who intentionally releases hunting dogs on the lands of another which have been posted in accordance with the provisions of § 18.2-134.1 to hunt without the consent of the landowner or his agent is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this section within three years is a Class 1 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, the court shall revoke such person's hunting or trapping license for a period of one year. The fact that hunting dogs are present on the lands of another alone is not sufficient evidence to prove that the person acted intentionally.

2016, c. 373.

§ 18.2-132.1. Trespass by hunters using dogs; penalty. (2016 updated section)
Any person who intentionally releases hunting dogs on the lands of another which have been posted in accordance with the provisions of § 18.2-134.1 to hunt without the consent of the landowner or his agent is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this section within three years is a Class 1 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, the court shall revoke such person's hunting or trapping license for a period of one year. The fact that hunting dogs are present on the lands of another alone is not sufficient evidence to prove that the person acted intentionally.
2016, c. 373.


18.2-133. Refusal of person on land, etc., of another to identify himself.

Any person who goes on the lands, waters, ponds, boats or blinds of another to hunt, fish, or trap and willfully refuses to identify himself when requested by the landowner or his agent so to do shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 
misdemeanor.

(Code 1950,  29-165.1; 1954, c. 156; 1962, c. 469; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)


18.2-134. Trespass on posted property.

Any person who goes on the lands, waters, ponds, boats or blinds of another, which have been posted in accordance with the provisions of  18.2-134.1, to hunt, fish or trap except with the written consent of or in the presence of the owner or his agent shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950,  29-166; 1954, c. 155; 1962, c. 469; 1975, cc. 14,15; 1987, c. 
603.)


18.2-159. Trespassing on railroad track.

Any person who goes upon the track of a railroad other than to pass over such road at a public or private crossing, or who willfully rides, drives or leads any animal or contrives for any animal to go on such track except to cross as aforesaid, without the consent of the railroad company or person operating such road, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. A second violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of the first violation shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of a second or a subsequent violation shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not apply to any section of track which has been legally abandoned pursuant to an order of a federal or state agency having jurisdiction over the track and is not being used for railroad service.

For purposes of this section, track shall mean the rail, ties, and ballast of the railroad.

(Code 1950, 18.1-148; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1993, c. 845.)


Peace and Order:


18.2-415. Disorderly conduct in public places.

A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:

A. In any street, highway, public building, or while in or on a public conveyance, or public place engages in conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, such conduct is directed; or

B. Willfully or being intoxicated, whether willfully or not, and whether such intoxication results from self-administered alcohol or other drug of whatever nature, disrupts any funeral, memorial service, or meeting of the governing body of any political subdivision of this Commonwealth or a division or agency thereof, or of any school, literary society or place of religious worship, if the disruption (i) prevents or interferes with the orderly conduct of the funeral, memorial service, or meeting or (ii) has a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, the disruption is directed; or

C. Willfully or while intoxicated, whether willfully or not, and whether such intoxication results from self-administered alcohol or other drug of whatever nature, disrupts the operation of any school or any activity conducted or sponsored by any school, if the disruption (i) prevents or interferes with the orderly conduct of the operation or activity or (ii) has a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, the disruption is directed. However, the conduct prohibited under subdivision A, B or C of this section shall not be deemed to include the utterance or display of any words or to include conduct otherwise made punishable under this title. The person in charge of any such building, place, conveyance, meeting, operation or activity may eject therefrom any person who violates any provision of this section, with the aid, if necessary, of any persons who may be called upon for such purpose.The governing bodies of counties, cities and towns are authorized to adopt ordinances prohibiting and punishing the acts and conduct prohibited by this section, provided that the punishment fixed therefor shall not exceed that prescribed for a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person violating any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950,  18.1-239, 18.1-240, 18.1-253.1 through 18.1-253.3; 1960, c. 358; 1968, c. 639; 1969, Ex. Sess., c. 2; 1970, c. 374; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 244; 1990, c. 627; 2006, c. 250.)


18.2-388. Profane swearing and intoxication in public; penalty; transportation of public inebriates to detoxification center.

If any person profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. In any area in which there is located a court-approved detoxification center a law-enforcement officer may authorize the transportation, by police or otherwise, of public inebriates to such detoxification center in lieu of arrest; however, no person shall be involuntarily detained in such center.

(Code 1950, 18.1-237; 1960, c. 358; 1964, c. 434; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1979, c. 654; 1982, c. 666; 1983, c. 187; 1990, c. 965.)

 

18.2-416. Punishment for using abusive language to another.

If any person shall, in the presence or hearing of another, curse or abuse such other person, or use any violent abusive language to such person concerning himself or any of his relations, or otherwise use such language, under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, 18.1-255; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.)

18.2-479.1. Resisting arrest; fleeing from a law-enforcement officer; penalty.

A. Any person who intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a law-enforcement officer from lawfully arresting him, with or without a warrant, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. For purposes of this section, intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a lawful arrest means fleeing from a law-enforcement officer when (i) the officer applies physical force to the person, or (ii) the officer communicates to the person that he is under arrest and (a) the officer has the legal authority and the immediate physical ability to place the person under arrest, and (b) a reasonable person who receives such communication knows or should know that he is not free to leave.

(2003, cc. 112, 805.)

Breakdown:

- “The only purpose of this section is to protect the rights of the owners or those in lawful control of private property.”  Hall v. Commonwealth, 49 S.E.2d 369 (1948).

- This requires that a person have lawful control of the property.  This can mean that they are the tenants leasing a property, or are invitees that have been given that authority by those who control the property.

- “One cannot be convicted of trespass when one enters  or stays upon the land under a bona fide claim of right.”  Reed v. Commonwealth, 366 S.E.2d 274 (1988).  In other words, if a person believes that they have some lawful right to control the property, then they are not trespassing.

-  A person can be trespassing simply by disregarding a “No Trespassing” sign.  Failure to observe the sign is rarely a defense.

- Disorderly conduct is one of the most controversial misdemeanor charges.  What facts might prove a disorderly conduct are varied.  Generally speaking, if the behavior was provocative and directed at other members of the public watching, such that they might be motivated to join in, it will be considered disorderly.  It is NOT the same thing as resisting arrest.

- Resisting arrest requires that a person be fleeing, a law enforcement officer, engaging in a lawful arrest, who has applied physical force to the person OR has communicated to the person that they are under arrest AND has the ability to effectuate the arrest AND a reasonable person should have known they were under arrest.

- If an officer tells someone that they want to speak with them, but does not say the “magic words” of under arrest, and that person runs from the officer before they can do so, that may be a good defense. 

Remember, all trespassing and peace crimes are serious cases with the potential for jail time. These are just a few highlights of these types of laws in Virginia. If you are charged with any criminal offense call me today for a free consultation.

Offense Facts:                       

Type: Summonses or misdemeanors.

 

Maximum punishment:

Misdemeanor - maximum of 12 months in jail, $2500 fine.

 

 

Interesting Facts:  A person can be found guilty of encouraging or aiding another to trespass if it can be proven that they knew the other person was not supposed to be on the property.