Criminal trespassing is not always taken as seriously as it should be in Maryland. If you failed to obey a no trespassing order, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 90 days in prison and a fine of $500 for a first violation. The actions of police or other landowners who enforce trespassing may be unconstitutional or dubious. You may not be aware you were trespassing or failed to notice signs. People such as fans at sporting venues can receive lifetime bans from venues. On occasions, people charged with failing to obey a no trespassing order may not even realize one was ever taken out against them.
You should contact an experienced Baltimore criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible in these cases. At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore criminal defense attorney helps many people who face charges after they fail to obey a no trespassing order. In some cases, people who trespass on private property receive lifetime bans.
Can Maryland Impose Permanent ’Stay Away’ Orders?
The state of Maryland allows businesses to impose ’stay away’ orders on certain individuals. The Baltimore Sun reported how in 2012, Mark Harvey, was banned for life from Oriole Park when he staged a pitch invasion dressed as Batman.
The Sun also cited a case in which a woman was banned for five years from a Walmart store because of her role in a fight. No trespassing orders can be imposed as part of probation conditions and trespassing can be banned under the peace order process in Maryland. However, this is a temporary rather than a permanent order.
No trespassing orders are often issued at the same time as drunken or disorderly conduct charges. However, citations for trespassing in Maryland are not always accompanied by other charges. People enrolled in the Maryland Voluntary Exclusion Program that keeps them out of casinos can be charged with criminal trespass if they enter a Maryland casino. Applicants can seek exclusions for two years or life. People who agree to a two-year ban may still be charged with trespassing if they return after two years has expired. The Voluntary Exclusion Program operates across the state. People enrolled in the program can be charged with trespass at any Maryland casino.
How Can You Fail to Obey a No Trespassing Order in Maryland?
No trespassing orders take many forms. People who are charged with trespassing in Maryland do not always realize that they have committed an offense. You can fall to obey a no trespassing order if you enter private property or a boat after the owner has told you not to do so. You can also be charged for violating a ban imposed by a business.
You can also be charged with trespassing if you ignore signs that are conspicuously posted telling people to stay off the property. You can’t drive a car or an off-road vehicle on private property without the written permission of the owner or the tenant. We sometimes see cases in which people who drive ATVs onto private land end up facing trespassing charges.
You can also fail to obey a no trespassing order in Maryland by not complying with the terms of a peace order taken out against you. Although a peace order is a civil mechanism intended to protect the person taking it out, violators face misdemeanor charges or a fine of up to $500 or a jail sentence of up to 90 days.
Defenses to Failing to Obey a Trespassing Order in Maryland
Trespassing is not always a straightforward offense. Obviously, if you climb a fence and get onto school grounds at night, you will face an uphill battle against criminal trespassing charges. There are shades of gray. Some defenses to trespassing include the following:
- The defendant was not aware he or she was trespassing – Lack of knowledge is a common defense to trespassing. A sign may have fallen down or be hidden or the property was not properly marked. The defendant may have strayed onto the property without realizing it was private. Hikers are typically not charged with trespassing if they stray onto private land.
- Insufficient warning – A warning given to stay out private property may have been ambiguous or the defendant failed to understand it. The person who gave the warning might not have had the authority to do so.
- Hidden or unclear signs – Maryland law says signs must be conspicuously posted. This means they must be clearly visible to anyone going onto the property. It must be clear that the signs are intended to keep people out. Signs reading “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” are clearly intended to deter trespassers. A sign reading “This is Not Public Land” is more ambitious.
- Ownership – You cannot be charged with trespassing on property you own unless you have been barred from it under a measure such as a protective order. A tenant cannot be charged with trespassing in their home unless they have been legally evicted or are subject to another type of order.
- Coercion – You should not be charged with trespassing if someone took you onto a property against your will.
- You are allowed to be on the property – Certain people are allowed to go onto properties for specific purposes. Posting a property with “No Trespassing” signs will not stop a properly executed police search. In a recent case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled “No Trespassing” signs should not prevent police officers conducting a ‘knock and talk’ at a residence.
- Notice was never given – On occasions, stores, casinos, sporting venues, and other premises seek to enforce bans of individuals who never received a notice. A defendant who is unaware of a ban from the premises cannot be expected to stay away.
Talk to a Maryland Failing to Obey a No Trespassing Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Maryland trespassing defense attorneys who are charged with failing to obey a no trespassing order. This is a common and wide-ranging offense. Police often charge people with trespassing on dubious grounds. Defendants seldom realize they can face time in a prison cell for trespassing. Police contact our Maryland criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible if you have been charged with this offense at (410) 694-7291.