You can commit criminal trespass by being on someone’s property without permission. A civil peace order or a no trespassing order in Maryland may also be sought. We have all seen “no trespassing signs” outside homes. However, trespassing is a wide offense that covers many venues. The owners of private property can impose lifetime bans on people. This extends to pitch invaders at locations like Oriole Park in Baltimore as well as less high profile venues.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore trespassing defense attorneys will advise you on how to obtain a no trespassing order or how to defend yourself against trespassing charges.
What is Trespassing in Maryland?
Trespassing is going onto someone’s land or property without permission. The crime carries a potential term of imprisonment of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $500. The defendant must be aware they were unlawfully on someone else’s property. A posted warning or a verbal warning constitutes notice.
What is Criminal Trespass on Posted Property in Maryland?
People who go onto a private property that has “no trespassing” signs commit a misdemeanor crime under Maryland Criminal Law 6-402. You may not enter or trespass on property that’s posted conspicuously against trespass by signs that are placed reasonably where they can be seen or paint marks that conform with the regulations of the Department of Natural Resources. The signs must be clearly visible and not hidden or obscured. Signs do not necessarily have to contain the word ‘trespassing’ to be effective. A “Keep Out’ sign is sufficient.
A skilled Maryland trespassing defense attorney can defend you against criminal charges that can blight your future or provide mitigating evidence in court.
Maryland sets out enhanced penalties for repeated trespassing violations on posted property. If a person is convicted of a second offense within two years after the first violation he or she can face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. For each subsequent violation of trespassing on posted property, the defendant could face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
What is Trespassing on Private Property After a Warning?
People who have been warned against going on land or into a property can be charged with trespassing if they ignore the warning. Maryland law defines wanton trespass on private property. The law states you may not enter or cross over private property or go on board a boat belonging to another person if you have been notified by the owner or an agent operating on behalf of the owner not to do so, unless “entering or crossing under a good faith claim of right or ownership.”
You can also be charged with trespassing if you remain on a property or a boat when you have been told to leave.
The offense of wanton trespass on private property in Maryland carries a sentence of up to 90 days incarceration or a fine not exceeding $500 or both for a first offense. A second violation within two years carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a fine of up to $1,000. Each subsequent violation occurring with two years of the previous violation carries a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding $2,500 or both.
What is Driving a Vehicle on Private Property in Maryland?
Under Maryland Criminal Law 6-404, it is an offense to drive a car or another off-road vehicle on private property unless the owner has permitted you to be on the land. The law does not apply to a clearly designated driveway. If you are convicted of driving on private property, you face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
It is also an offense to use an off-road vehicle on property owned or leased by the state of Maryland or its political subdivisions. If you drive a dirt bike or a four-wheeler on government property you can face a misdemeanor and up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Filing a No Trespassing Order in Maryland
You can obtain a civil no trespassing order under the peace order process in Maryland. A peace order is a temporary legal protection that can be sought by someone ineligible for a protective order. While protective orders are sought by people in certain family relationships and other specific relations, you can take out a peace order against anyone who is harassing you. This includes a trespasser who is entering your property.
A peace order allows the person who is claiming harassment – the petitioner – to order the respondent to stay away. Someone who has threatened you with harm may repeatedly trespass on your property. The actions of a trespasser can be intimidating when warnings to get off your property are ignored.
You can obtain an interim peace order at the District Court. If the District Court is closed, the petitioner can file a Petition for Peace Order with the District Court Commissioner’s office. Commissioner’s offices are open and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week across Maryland.
The judge or commissioner will grant an interim peace order when “reasonable grounds” exist to establish that an incident such as trespassing occurred between the petitioner and the respondent.
A temporary peace order typically lasts for 7 days after service. A judge may extend the order up to a total of 30 days. A hearing for a final peace order must take place within 7 days of the serving of the temporary order in the absence of an extension.
Final peace orders are in effect for six months. The judge can order the alleged trespasser to stay out of your property.
Can You Impose a Permanent No Trespassing Order in Maryland?
In some high profile cases, the Orioles and other businesses made headlines by imposing permanent no trespassing orders on certain people. Businesses have the right to set up their own rules on who to exclude. However, these cannot be discriminatory such as being based on the color of a patron’s skin or their religious belief as protected by federal law.
A company can, for example, protect a worker by banning a stalker or an abusive ex-spouse from a store or another premises the public can access. Casino owners can ban cheats. The owner or operator of a bar can ban someone who becomes drunk and abusive from their premises.
It perfectly legal for property owners to impose long-lasting and even lifetime bans on private property. The Orioles have imposed bans on pitch invaders, for example. The property owner must inform the subject of the no trespassing order. The police may act as the agents of the property owners and issue written no trespassing orders. Violation of these orders constitutes a misdemeanor offense.
Baltimore Trespassing Defense Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you believe you unfairly received a no trespassing order in Maryland, you should talk to a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we can advise you how to seek no trespassing orders and how to fight them. It’s important to hire a legal professional to vigorously defend your rights. Please contact us at (410) 657-5075.