Trespassing is defined as the intentional entering onto the property of another without authority or permission. The property may consist of vacant land, a home or residence, a business, or even public land from which one is banned from entering. One may be banned from entering public land at certain times, such as the posted hours of a public park or all together such as a military base or installation. One may also be banned from a business or public land such as a beach or park if after having been asked to leave, returns without authority or permission. Under Massachusetts criminal law, the crime of Trespass is a misdemeanor and may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 120.
Legal Elements of Trespass
In order to be found guilty of Trespass under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following legal elements: (1) that, without right, the defendant entered or remained in a dwelling house, building, boat, or improved or enclosed land of another; and (2) that the defendant was forbidden to enter or to remain on the property by a person in lawful control of the premises, either directly or by means of a posted notice.
Examples of Trespass
There are several ways that a person can become a trespasser, and therefore, be guilty of the crime of trespassing. These include situations where the person knowingly intentionally entered the land or property of another without authority or where a person had authority to be on the premises but exceeded the scope of that authority. Some examples of trespassing include the following:
- A customer entering store to make a purchase but then entering into a storage room to look for a box for his own use.
- A person visiting the dentist who found the main office door locked and attempted to enter through adjacent living quarters.
- A person jumping into an abandoned quarry without permission.
- A person entering through the back of a store and passing a sign that said “Employees Only.”
- A person lawfully upon the premises for a picnic but then boarding a chairlift.
- A real estate agent uses a house listed for sale as a weekend getaway.
- A miner tunnels underneath the surface and crosses the boundary onto another person’s land.
- A person flies an airplane low across another person’s land.
- A person throwing something onto or flooding another’s property.
- A person returns to a casino or other business after being asked to leave.
- A person returns to a party after being asked to leave.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Trespass in Massachusetts
The potential consequences for Trespass, if convicted, in the Commonwealth may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 120.
A defendant convicted of Trespass shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 30 days. However, if the Trespass was committed while the defendant was in possession a firearm, he or she shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 2 months.