The Crime of Trespass
Trespassing is defined as the entering of another’s land without the owner’s permission. In Maryland, trespassing is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of ninety (90) days and/or a fine of $500. The two most common forms of trespass crimes in Maryland are posted property trespass and private property trespass.
Posted Property Trespass
A person is not allowed to enter onto property that is posted conspicuously against trespassing. That posting can come in the form of signs that are placed where they can be reasonably seen or by paint marks on trees or posts at the entrances and land adjacent to the property.
It is a defense to this type of trespass that there are not signs posted instructing people to stay off the property. It may also be a defense that any signs posted in the area are not in the proper place to be easily seen by visitors to the property.
Private Property Trespass
In Maryland it is a crime if someone crosses onto another person’s property where that owner has previously notified the person not to do so. The owner is allowed to designate agents to act on their behalf to notify people not to enter the property again. For example, certain businesses or residential areas may delegate power to the local police department allowing them to act on their behalf in this respect. The police then have the authority and ability to tell a person that they cannot return to that location in the future.
A potential defense to this is if the person has not previously been instructed to not return to the property by the owner (or an agent of the owner). There is also a defense if the person believes they have a good faith claim of right or ownership rights to the property.
Maryland Trespass Attorney
If you are facing a charge of trespassing of any kind, contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti for a free consultation at 301-875-3472. We have experience with these types of cases and can help you out with your situation. In addition to the numerous defenses that may be available at trial, these cases can often times be resolved through community service or diversion. An attorney who is experienced in the area may be able to skillfully negotiate a settlement that results in a dismissal or a stet, depending on the facts of the case and a number of other factors. If you have any questions or would like to know more about your case, contact us today.