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Can You Be Charged With Trespassing If Property Has No Signs?

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Posted By McAdams Law | June 10 2023 | Blog

Residents and visitors to Colorado grow accustomed to wandering in 8.3 million acres of public lands, its forty-two state parks, and four national parks. But sometimes, our adventures take us across property lines by accident or curiosity. If no signs post the property as private, are you still trespassing?

If you have been charged with trespassing onto private land, in a dwelling, or business, a trespassing defense attorney in Colorado can guide you through the legal process. Mistakes do happen, and you are innocent until proven otherwise.

Trespassing in Colorado

It is reasonable to assume that property such as a home or an automobile is private, and entering these places can constitute first-degree trespassing, depending on your motive. Colorado has varying degrees of trespass, leading to either misdemeanor or felony charges. The degree of offense will depend on your reasons for going onto the property or remaining there and the type of property you trespassed on.

Second-Degree Criminal Trespass

Colorado has its share of abandoned structures and large swaths of land that are not signed. Accessing these places may constitute a charge of trespassing, and the degree will depend on your intent.

  • Is the property a structure, and was it secured to prevent entry? Were doors closed or locked, windows shut, boarded, or locked?
  • Did you cross under or over a fence, gate, or cable to gain access to land, pathways, or roads?

If you willingly go into or on a property that presents some barrier to keep outsiders from entering, then you may be charged with second-degree criminal trespass, regardless of signage. Your intentions may have been nothing more than to look around, take a shortcut, or spend an afternoon. What matters is if law enforcement sees your presence as an intent to commit a trespassing crime.

Third-Degree Criminal Trespass

Entering onto land that is not fenced, chained, or blocked by barriers in any way constitutes a less serious infraction. Entering into walled structures is a more severe offense. There must be proof that you unlawfully accessed the land or stayed after knowing it was private.

An example may be that you’re getting ready to set up camp late evening and see a nice spot off the road. You set up camp, get comfortable, and someone approaches, informing you they own the land and asking you to leave. If you refuse to go, you risk a charge of third-degree criminal trespass.

It is essential to point out there are almost always exceptions to rules. Trespassing on agricultural land can carry more severe consequences.

Trespass Considerations in Colorado

In addition to private land, residences, and buildings belonging to an individual, you may also be charged with a trespassing offense for unlawfully entering or remaining in a communal space in apartment buildings, condos, or hotels. Signs are not always present in these places, but you may be charged with second degree-trespass. These actions also apply to automobiles, even if you enter without the intention of committing a crime.

Legal Defense in a Colorado Trespass Charge

It is not physically possible to sign all property in Colorado, so you could unknowingly trespass on private property. If this occurs and you are informed of your offense, it is best to leave without incident. However, you may not be given this chance before law enforcement is contacted.

Years of experience with legal defense allows McAdams Law Office to pursue your case with a bold approach, having the trespass charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped. There are plausible defenses to these charges. We understand that mistakes happen, and we are willing to help you get it right in the eyes of the law.

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