Trespass

Trespassing on property is an old offense that dates back to as early as the thirteenth century. Yet today, trespass continues to be a problem in the Unites States with our system of strongly enforced property rights.  Last year, there were approximately 1.5 million trespassers charged in courts across the country. Trespass is a crime that doesn’t go down in numbers or statistics because of how broad of a crime it truly is. In modern law the word trespass is used to describe the intentional and wrongful invasion of another’s property. There are many degrees of how a trespass crime can be perpetrated, for example a hunter who enters a field where hunting is forbidden is considered to be a trespasser, as is a construction company that blasts rocks on to a neighbor’s yard when working.

In a trespass action, the plaintiff does not have to prove that the defendant intended to trespass, but only that the defendant intended to do whatever caused the trespass. Therefore, even if the trespasser mistakenly believes that he or she was not doing anything wrong, they can still be prosecuted. On this basis, even a child can be considered to be a trespasser. Unfortunately because of this broad net placed on the people, many mistakenly find themselves on someone else’s property or during a time when they should not be on the particular property, like a public park that is closed between certain hours. 

Trespassing Crimes in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, trespass involves the act of entering or remaining in or upon someone’s dwelling house, building, boat or even improved or enclosed land, a wharf, or pier without owner’s permission or other right.  Trespass can also involve entering or remaining in a school bus after having been forbidden so to do by the person who has lawful control of said premises, whether directly or by a notice posted on the property.

Massachusetts enforces strong property rights and the police pursue a great number of trespassing crime violations. In the Commonwealth, trespassing is considered a property crime and the criminal statute prohibiting trespass has been codified in G.L. c 266 § 120.  The penalty for trespassing in Massachusetts includes a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by up to 30 days in prison or by both fine and imprisonment.  In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of trespassing, the prosecutor must prove the following essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

•    That the defendant entered or remained in a dwelling, house, building, boat, enclosed land or any other property;

•    The defendant was forbidden to enter or to remain there by the person in lawful control of the premises, either directly or by means of a posted notice.

In Massachusetts, trespass is a misdemeanor crime that can lead the defendant to be arrested by a sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable or police officer and kept in custody until he or she can be taken to court for arraignment.  The statute does not apply to landlord and tenant situations whereby a tenant overstays his tenancy.  Related trespass statutes also include G.L. c. 266, § 121 trespass with firearms, and G.L. c. 266, §121A trespass with a vehicle.

Boston, Massachusetts Trespassing Crimes Lawyer


The crime of trespassing still involves serious legal penalties that include the potential of up to 30 days in jail, probation, restitution, fines, and fees and other collateral consequences to a convicted defendant such as the loss of certain licenses and employment.  The charge is serious and a defendant accused of such crime of trespass needs skilled legal representation by an experienced Massachusetts trespass crimes lawyer. Just some of the issues that can come up in a trespass case involve the location and nature of the notice that is posted by the owner of the property or person in charge.  For instance, was there an appropriate notice that was reasonable distinct?  Was the notice forbidding trespass posted in a reasonable location?  Was there a landlord tenant relationship between the parties?  The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been practicing criminal defense in Massachusetts for over 19 years and has the experience and legal skills necessary to defend your trespassing case.  As a dedicated trespass crimes defense attorney, Patrick Murphy is available 24/7 and he offers a free and absolutely confidential legal consultation for criminal defendants accused of crime.  Contact Attorney Murphy today by calling him directly at 617-367-0450 or by emailing him directly by filling out the email contacts tab on our website.

 

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