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Does a person need intent when trespassing?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2021 | Property Crimes |

Trespassing is a common crime, and sometimes people may not even recognize it. Common trespassing concerns in Boulder, Colorado, include kids cutting through a yard or a person hitting golf balls into a neighbor’s yard. Actions like these amount to trespass to land.

Trespass to land

Under criminal defense law, trespass to land is when someone enters another property without permission. Trespassing to land claims only need the intent of entering the property. A person trespassing on purpose or accident is equal under criminal defense law. A person accidentally entering someone’s property or causing an item to enter a property can be trespassing. Property damage and injury aren’t necessary for trespassing to land claims.

Proving Trespass to Land claims

There are four actions a person needs to show to prove trespass to land. The court needs the person with legal ownership of the property in question to make the trespassing claim. The defendant needs to intend on entering the property. There isn’t a rule to intend to enter the property wrongfully. In certain states, causing an object to enter a property or accidentally entering a property is trespassing.

The defendant has to have unauthorized permission to be on the property. The owner can either imply or express as much. Postal carriers and police have implied permission to be on private property, so trespass cases against them would fail. There should be damage to the property, but the physical act of intrusion is enough for trespassing. Some states consider an annoyance of the property owner enough for trespassing claims.

Typical damages from trespassing

If damage occurs because of trespassing, property owners have a right to compensation under criminal defense law. A person could recover losses from the following damages:

  • Loss of market value
  • Costs of restoration
  • Loss of use of the property
  • Physical injury to the person or to the land
  • Emotional distress
  • Discomfort and annoyance

There are permanent damages and temporary damages in trespassing cases. With a permanent injury to the property, damages are the loss of fair market value. With a temporary injury to the property, damages are the cost of repairs. If a person doesn’t need compensation for damages, an injunction is the best way to get the trespassing to stop.