In Virginia, trespassing is defined as entering someone else’s property without permission or remaining on the premises after being instructed to leave. Virginia trespassing laws do not pertain to areas intended for general public access or publicly owned buildings, unless the individual enters or stays on the property for a purpose unrelated to its intended function. Moreover, if a person enters or stays on the property for its designated function but disrupts its operation, it may be considered trespassing. Virginia has several laws that explicitly forbid unauthorized entry onto another person’s land.
As stipulated in Virginia Code §18.2-119, it criminalizes the act of entering or remaining on someone else’s property after receiving notice that such entry is prohibited. This offense encompasses various actions, such as:
1. Unauthorized entry onto another person’s land.
2. Remaining on someone else’s property after being instructed to leave.
3. Entering property marked with no trespassing signs without permission.
4. Violating a protective order by entering restricted property.
To secure a conviction for trespass in Virginia under Virginia Code §18.2-119, the Commonwealth must demonstrate that the offender deliberately entered the property of another without authorization. This necessitates proof of:
1. Entry or remaining on the land.
2. The land belonging to another.
3. Lack of permission.
4. Notice to the offender that entry is forbidden on the property.
Merely being present on another person’s property is insufficient grounds for a trespass conviction in Virginia. The Commonwealth is required to establish that the accused party was aware of their prohibition from the property. This awareness can be conveyed through oral or written notice delivered by an authoritative figure with the capacity to restrict access to the premises. Alternatively, proper notice may be conveyed by visibly posting signs on the property explicitly prohibiting trespassing.
Under Virginia Code §18.2-119, trespass is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties for this offense include imprisonment for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2500. In cases where the trespasser deliberately chose the determined by characteristics such as race, religion, color, or ethnicity, the violation is upgraded to a Class 6 felony. This more severe offense carries a potential prison sentence of up to 5 years. Furthermore, a mandatory, active sentence of at least 30 days, with a minimum total imprisonment period of 6 months, is stipulated for such cases.
Violating Virginia’s trespassing laws on school property may result in either a monetary fine or a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Trespassing on School Property: Entering school property or a school bus at night constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor according to VA Code §18.2-128(A), resulting in a fine of up to $500.
Unlawfully Remaining: Remaining on school property unlawfully, either by entering without permission, refusing to leave after being instructed to do so, or in violation of posted notices, is a Class 1 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-128(B). In cases where the trespasser enters or remains on the property with the intent to abduct a child belonging to another person, the offense escalates to a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Unauthorized presence in Virginia cemeteries, particularly during nighttime, is subject to legal consequences, which may include fines or imprisonment.
Entering a cemetery at night without permission for purposes other than visiting a family member’s grave is considered a Class 4 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-125. Offenders may face a fine of up to $250 for this violation.
Intentionally blocking a cemetery entrance or exit in a willful or malicious manner is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-127(A)(3). This offense carries potential penalties of imprisonment for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2500.
Virginia laws concerning trespassing on church premises encompass actions such as obstructing entrances or exits, nighttime trespassing, and disregarding eviction orders.
Willful or Malicious Obstruction of Church Entrance or Exit: Committing this offense constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying penalties of a maximum 12-month jail term and fines up to $2500 (VA Code §18.2-127(C)).
Trespassing on Church Property: As per VA Code §18.2-128(A), entering church premises at night for any purpose other than attending a meeting or service without authorization is a Class 3 misdemeanor, with fines reaching up to $500.
Unlawful Presence on Church Property: Remaining on church premises after being instructed to leave or in violation of posted notices is a Class 1 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-128(B). This violation can result in imprisonment for up to 12 months and fines up to $2500.
Virginia’s laws regarding trespassing in the context of hunting and fishing may lead to penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for up to 12 months.
Unauthorized Hunting or Trapping in State Forest: Engaging in hunting or trapping within a state forest without the required permit is classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor according to VA Code §10.1-1157. Violators may face a fine of up to $500.
Entering Another’s Land for Hunting/Fishing: Under VA Code §18.2-132, intentionally entering someone else’s land or water for the purpose of hunting, fishing, or trapping without proper consent is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Hunting or Fishing in Violation of No Trespass Signs: Trespassing on another person’s land for hunting or fishing without permission and in defiance of posted prohibitory signs is a Class 1 misdemeanor as per VA Code §18.2-134. Offenders may be subject to imprisonment for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2500.
Failure to Identify After Trespass for Hunting/Fishing: Failing to identify oneself to the landowner upon request after trespassing for hunting is deemed a Class 4 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-133.
Tampering with Signs Prohibiting Hunting/Fishing: Tampering with signs that prohibit hunting on another person’s property without consent is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor according to VA Code §18.2-135. This offense can result in up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1000, and a revocation of the offender’s hunting or fishing license for a period of up to 5 years.
Virginia has enacted several trespassing laws that prohibit unauthorized entry on trains, railroads, and public transportation. The regulations cover various scenarios and offenses, each with its own corresponding penalties.
Train Trespass Offense: Violating train trespass laws constitutes a Class 4 misdemeanor, as outlined in §18.2-160, with penalties including fines of up to $250.
Trespass on Other Public Transportation: Entering or remaining on a vehicle operated by a public transportation service without authorization or against explicit prohibition is considered a Class 4 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-160.2.
Failure to Pay Train Fare: Engaging in train travel without paying the required fare leads to a civil penalty of $100 under VA Code §18.2-160.1(A).
Committing Fraud with a False Train Ticket: The act of using a fraudulent or counterfeit train ticket is deemed a Class 2 misdemeanor according to VA Code §18.2-160.1(C). A minimum fine of $500 is among the imposed penalties for a first offense and a minimum fine of $750 for a second offense, provided the second offense occurs between 1 day and one year after the initial violation. Additionally, the offender may be liable for the costs associated with prosecuting this fraudulent activity under §18.2-160.1(D).
Railroad Trespassing Offenses: Unauthorized entry onto a railroad track, excluding crossings, is classified as a Class 4 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-159. A subsequent violation within a span of 2 years elevates the offense to a Class 2 misdemeanor, while a third violation is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. This statute also criminalizes the act of causing an animal to venture onto a railroad track.
Leading an Animal onto a Railroad Track for Damages: Deliberately guiding an animal onto a railroad track with the intent of seeking monetary damages from the railroad constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-158 if the animal sustains injury or is killed.
The intentional use of a spotlight on private property designated for livestock or crops without obtaining written consent constitutes a Class 3 misdemeanor according to VA Code §18.2-121.2. This violation is subject to a fine of up to $500.
Illuminating an Inhabited Poultry House: Employing a spotlight on a poultry house located on another individual’s property during the nighttime, resulting in panic or injury to the animals is a Class 4 misdemeanor under VA Code §18.2-509.
Illuminating Areas Used by Deer While Armed: Under VA Code §29.1-525, shining a spotlight on locations frequented by deer from a vehicle while armed is deemed a criminal offense. This act is classified as a Class 2 misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum of 6 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $1000. Any occupant of the vehicle may be convicted for this offense.
Illegally Illuminating Deer Habitat from a Vehicle: Shining a spotlight intentionally from a car onto someone else’s property designated as a deer habitat constitutes a Class 4 misdemeanor according to VA Code §29.1-525(B). Offenders may face the revocation of their hunting license and hunting privileges for a period of up to 5 years as a consequence of violating this statute.
Engaging in hunting in defiance of this regulation is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Permitting a Quarantined Animal to Roam Unrestrained: Deliberately allowing an animal under quarantine to roam freely is a Class 4 misdemeanor, as stipulated by VA Code §18.2-121.1, with a potential fine of up to $250.