Most people know that trespassing laws are what prohibit you from going onto the property of another person without getting explicit permission, or after you have been told to leave. However, many people do not know the specifics of Virginia trespassing laws and penalties. In this article, you will learn more about these laws and the potential repercussions of not observing them.
Potential Trespassing Charges
There are different charges affiliated with trespassing, depending upon the property on which you have trespassed. These properties (and their corresponding charges) include:
Virginia law states that it is considered trespassing if you a) wilfully block the exit or entrance to a church, or b) enter a church at night for any purpose other than to attend a service or gathering. As is the case with all public property, you also cannot stay on the property after you have been asked to leave.
If you block the exit or entrance, the charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor and you could land in jail for a year. You could also be subject to pay up to a $2500 fine. The same charges and punishment apply if you remain on church property after you have been asked to leave.
If you are found trespassing on church property after dark and are not going to a service or meeting, you can expect to pay a fine of up to $500. This charge is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Virginia trespassing laws that govern trespassing on cemeteries are subject to both jail time punishments as well as fines. The offenses include being in a cemetery after dark without an intention of visiting the grave of a loved one, and intentionally blocking the exit or entrance of the cemetery.
If you are on cemetery grounds at night without permission, the charge is a Class 4 misdemeanor and you can expect to pay a fine up to $250. Furthermore, if you intentionally block the exit or entrance to a cemetery, you could land yourself in jail for up to a year and pay a fine of up to $2500. This charge is also considered a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Trespassing on school property in Virginia has potential punishments that are quite varied in severity. You could be charged with just a fine or you could end up going to prison for up to 5 years.
If you are found to be trespassing on school property (while in session), a Class 3 misdemeanor, you could be charged with a fine of up to $500. However, if you are found to be remaining on school property unlawfully (after school hours) the misdemeanor is a Class 1 crime. The most egregious charge would be that of a Class 6 felony which would occur if you were found on school property with the intention of kidnapping a child. That would land you in prison for up to 5 years.
There are several different Virginia trespassing laws related to transportation. These include entering railroads, modes of public transportation and trains without permission. The fines vary from a civil penalty for riding or boarding a train without paying the fare, to Class 1 through 4 misdemeanors plus fines.
Transportation misdemeanors include using fake tickets on a train, remaining on a public transportation vehicle after being told not to do so, or trespassing on a railroad crossing.
Animals, Hunting & Fishing
There are several Virginia trespassing violations related to animals and then more specific laws that govern hunting and fishing. For animals, violations include shining spotlights on animals or where animals are located. For example, you cannot shine a spotlight on livestock or in a poultry house. You also cannot shine a light on deer if you are armed or on an area known to be used by deer. Finally, you cannot let an animal that is currently quarantined roam free.
Charges for animal trespassing violations range from a fine of up to $250 all the way to 6 months in jail. You can also lose your hunting privileges, if applicable.
There are other charges related to fishing and hunting violations as well. These range in punishments from paying just a fine for hunting without a permit to up to 5 years in prison for tampering with signs that prohibit hunting.
Trespassing laws explicitly apply to private property and do not pertain to establishments that are used for public activities or are publicly owned. However, if you enter a public building for a reason other than the intended purpose of the building (napping in a library, for example) it is still considered trespassing. Alternatively, it is also considered trespassing if you are being disruptive on or destroy public property.
Speak to The Brown Firm, PLLC For More Information
If you have recently been charged with a trespassing violation in the state of Virginia or if you would like more general information related to Virginia trespassing laws, reach out to The Brown Firm, PLLC today.