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Thread: Question on unauthorized trespassing on residential property

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    Question on unauthorized trespassing on residential property

    What would be considered unlawful trespassing on residential property? Considering many people conducting business approach the doorstep of residential houses (door to door salesmen, missionary preachers, etc) and aren't unlawfully trespassing.

    Where is the line that a person would have to cross, in order to be considered unlawful trespassing? Continuing to enter, despite posted signs that specifically say "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting"? Entering a gated yard? Entering a locked gated yard?

    What do the general trespassing laws state?


    I'll post a few scenarios, and I'd like to hear your opinion as to what would be considered trespassing.


    1) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced residential home, and proceed to knock on the door. The home owner doesn't want solicitors, and doesn't welcome guests, but there are no posted signs. The salesmen are on private property.


    2) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen proceed to the door, regardless of what the signs read.

    3) Two salesmen walk up to a fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen ignore the signs, and proceed to open the gate, and knock on the home owners door.

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    all 3 senarios are similar, with subtle differences. in my opinion, and I am not a lawyer, the first would not be trespassing until you verbally requested that they leave the property and they refused.
    the second two could be construed as trespassing and I don't think you would have to do anything but call the law to have them removed.
    none of the senarios warrent the use of deadly force.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Aaron I posted a cite before Washington state court case in our forum. That open sidewalk and driveway to your front door is an implied invitation.

    Personally I feel if you gate/fence off with a trespassing sign that is then trespassing, along with if you tell someone I don't want you on my property. But I heard of cases and haven't done the research personally so this is just second hand that, an unlocked gate easily accessible to the public is not considered trespassing.

    I also have a problem with it being posted that it still isn't trespassing because many associations have ccr's against fences and gates.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1124 View Post
    What would be considered unlawful trespassing on residential property? Considering many people conducting business approach the doorstep of residential houses (door to door salesmen, missionary preachers, etc) and aren't unlawfully trespassing.

    Where is the line that a person would have to cross, in order to be considered unlawful trespassing? Continuing to enter, despite posted signs that specifically say "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting"? Entering a gated yard? Entering a locked gated yard?

    What do the general trespassing laws state?


    I'll post a few scenarios, and I'd like to hear your opinion as to what would be considered trespassing.


    1) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced residential home, and proceed to knock on the door. The home owner doesn't want solicitors, and doesn't welcome guests, but there are no posted signs. The salesmen are on private property.


    2) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen proceed to the door, regardless of what the signs read.

    3) Two salesmen walk up to a fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen ignore the signs, and proceed to open the gate, and knock on the home owners door.
    It depends on the State. In Alabama, the first two are, by law, NOT trespassing. The third may be. However, the police likely will not do anything about it until the person has been personally informed to get off the land and not return. The police will file a record of the notification. Returning (or failing to leave) will result in charges.

    I can't speak about WA. Also, IANAL, but twice the police have tried (and failed) to trespass me, and I was a census worker who routinely walked onto posted, fenced property, got grief about it once, but still accomplished the purpose of the visit.

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    "Question on unauthorized trespassing on residential property"

    I thought all trespassing was unauthorized. Is there such a thing as authorized trespassing?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post

    ....I thought all trespassing was unauthorized. Is there such a thing as authorized trespassing?


    Yes, I think they call it a "Search Warrant" LOL
    A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.- Thomas Jefferson March 4 1801

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    In the City where I live, unless these people are members of a charity, politicians, Farmers selling produce from their own land, or Cable TV Sales people, they would be in violation of City ordinance in all three scenarios.

    It's been illegal to solicit door to door since 1964 with the above exceptions. Believe it or not, the local police actually respond to calls like this when called. All too many of the Door-to-Door solicitors here are "casing" the houses for later break-ins. Several "knock and no answers" are followed by a kicked in front door.

    Could be interesting at my house. Family and Friends call on the phone when they are arriving. For them the door gets answered. The rest are ignored. Suffice it to say, the occupants of this house are well armed.
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    I'm not a lawyer...This applies to NC...

    1) No trespassing has occured until the homeowner tells the solicitors to leave and they refuse to do so.

    2) You could charge with second degree trespassing, though I think I'd want refusal to leave after being told before doing so.

    3) This is a much more clear second degree trespass charge, but actually charging it will depend on the circumstances. For instance, if they simply leave after no one answers the door or someone tells them to, I think most police probably wouldn't charge.
    Last edited by Kivuli; 04-29-2011 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Added state reference
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    In the City where I live, unless these people are members of a charity, politicians, Farmers selling produce from their own land, or Cable TV Sales people, they would be in violation of City ordinance in all three scenarios.

    It's been illegal to solicit door to door since 1964 with the above exceptions. Believe it or not, the local police actually respond to calls like this when called. All too many of the Door-to-Door solicitors here are "casing" the houses for later break-ins. Several "knock and no answers" are followed by a kicked in front door.

    Could be interesting at my house. Family and Friends call on the phone when they are arriving. For them the door gets answered. The rest are ignored. Suffice it to say, the occupants of this house are well armed.
    How do they get around the implied invitation rulings of our supreme court or has nobody fought it yet?
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Quote Originally Posted by END_THE_FED View Post
    Yes, I think they call it a "Search Warrant" LOL
    LOL!! Too true, too true.

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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Interesting on the census comment. Neighbor's wife worked the census for awhile, don't know what happened, but after a few weeks of working the census, she quit? And the no trespassing signs went up around their property...specifically addressed to the census takers.

    I know all the census takers around here were told to obey any "no trespass" signs. They did not want anyone hurt.

    Up here on this mountain, if you go straight to the front door, you may or may not be met by a shotgun, but I'll give there is a shotgun, big dog, or something similar within reach. Neighbor has a "door bell" (a big bell) about 100 ft from his front door. He takes exception (a pit bull) to anyone coming closer unless invited.
    Last edited by hermannr; 05-02-2011 at 12:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    How do they get around the implied invitation rulings of our supreme court or has nobody fought it yet?

    I think that the law would remove the "implied invitation", in the same way that clear signage or a gate does.
    A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.- Thomas Jefferson March 4 1801

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by END_THE_FED View Post
    I think that the law would remove the "implied invitation", in the same way that clear signage or a gate does.
    There has been if I remember correctly Washington and 9th circuit decisions that those laws violate free speech. Especially religions, but even 'commercial free speech'. And that an open driveway and sidewalk is an implied invitation.

    Although I think they still can require permits for commercial but not religious or political. Unless the homeowner specifically puts a "No Solicitation" sign on his property. The government can't interfere in the exchange of free speech.

    An interesting case on the political religious side is Stratton Ohio vs. Jehovah Witnesses.

    “It is offensive – not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society – that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so.”
    Justice John Paul Stevens
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post
    Interesting on the census comment. Neighbor's wife worked the census for awhile, don't know what happened, but after a few weeks of working the census, she quit? And the no trespassing signs went up around their property...specifically addressed to the census takers.

    I know all the census takers around here were told to obey any "no trespass" signs. They did not want anyone hurt.

    Up here on this mountain, if you go straight to the front door, you may or may not be met by a shotgun, but I'll give there is a shotgun, big dog, or something similar within reach. Neighbor has a "door bell" (a big bell) about 100 ft from his front door. He takes exception (a pit bull) to anyone coming closer unless invited.
    I was a census worker. We were not so instructed, probably due to the lack of legal of legal meaning to such a sign. A fenced and locked property or a verbal git-off-my-propity would cause us to return for another try later. After a number of tries, we'd turn the matter over to a supervisor. However, I guarantee you that we were not deterred. Every household was censused--one way or another.

    One property that I was assigned was locked. I returned several times. Eventually, it was unlocked and someone was cutting the grass. I was given a git-off-my-propity, but advised the gentleman that if he answered one question, we'd never return to bother him again. The obvious implication was that we'd keep returning until he relented. He asked what the question was, and I queried, "Does anyone live in that mobile home?" while pointing to a rather nice, and large, RV next to his driveway. He said no, and I left. Generally, we found a way, usually persistence and courtesy, to get the job done.

    We had already censused the main house from his mail-in, but we had to check out every place that was found that could serve as a home.

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron1124 View Post
    What would be considered unlawful trespassing on residential property? Considering many people conducting business approach the doorstep of residential houses (door to door salesmen, missionary preachers, etc) and aren't unlawfully trespassing.

    Where is the line that a person would have to cross, in order to be considered unlawful trespassing? Continuing to enter, despite posted signs that specifically say "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting"? Entering a gated yard? Entering a locked gated yard?

    What do the general trespassing laws state?


    I'll post a few scenarios, and I'd like to hear your opinion as to what would be considered trespassing.


    1) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced residential home, and proceed to knock on the door. The home owner doesn't want solicitors, and doesn't welcome guests, but there are no posted signs. The salesmen are on private property.


    2) Two salesmen walk up to a non-fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen proceed to the door, regardless of what the signs read.

    3) Two salesmen walk up to a fenced, residential home, with signs clearly posted in plain view that read "No Trespassing" and "No Soliciting". The salesmen ignore the signs, and proceed to open the gate, and knock on the home owners door.
    Assuming the signs meet that state's statutes, i.e., some reguire owners name, address, phone number be on the sign and the signs posted every X feet, 1 is ok; 2 and 3 are trespassing against which the owner has the right to use reasonable force to eject them. Fences are irrelevant to NO Trespassing postings legality.

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    In the State of Alabama, the statute mentions the usability of a sign to inform folks that they are not invited or licensed to enter in only one circumstance: unimproved, unused land.

    Be wary of anonymous Internet legal advice. Laws vary greatly from State to State.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    In the State of Alabama, the statute mentions the usability of a sign to inform folks that they are not invited or licensed to enter in only one circumstance: unimproved, unused land.

    Be wary of anonymous Internet legal advice. Laws vary greatly from State to State.
    "Assuming the signs meet that state's statutes..."

    Wow, an echo in here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunslinger View Post
    "Assuming the signs meet that state's statutes[, i.e., some reguire owners name, address, phone number be on the sign and the signs posted every X feet,]..."

    Wow, an [amazingly conveniently incomplete] echo in here.
    There is no standard for the sign (such as the items in the list you cited), apart from the sign being posted in a conspicuous manner. What I described about the law was the only circumstance under which the sign is even mentioned in the black-letter law.

    Moving on except to say, folks, get your legal advice from a lawyer whom you personally have met and personally know, can trust, and can find after the fact. Avoid advice from folks who rely solely on disingenuous parsing to "win" discussions and whose creds consist solely of third parties, about whom you know as little, pointing out that he "has a JD behind his name." That particular descriptor can be applied to probably hundreds of thousands of people whom I would not want to stand with in court!

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    "Laws vary greatly from state to state." eye.

    After I had posted "Assuming the signs meet 'that state's' statutes..." but not an echo, according to him.

    Personally, I don't gas whether eye thinks I have a JD, MD, BA or GED. Anyone who chooses can look up my opinion, which is all it is, against case or black letter law. If they can show where I am mistaken, I will be the first to admit it--and have on several occasions. I don't run off saying "moving on" when the tide turns or try to reword someone's salient point to take credit for it. Or engage in continuous circular arguments, facts not in evidence or pure logical fallacy. The forum is for anyone's opinion. You have his unremitting self aggrandizement feebly covered by tu quoque attacks. Res ipsa loquitur. In the past, I have defended eye numerous times. He has now set a new tone. His choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    There is no standard for the sign (such as the items in the list you cited), apart from the sign being posted in a conspicuous manner. What I described about the law was the only circumstance under which the sign is even mentioned in the black-letter law.

    !
    I believe changing my quote is a violation of the rules. You, as the 'law and order' automaton should know better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    There has been if I remember correctly Washington and 9th circuit decisions that those laws violate free speech. Especially religions, but even 'commercial free speech'. And that an open driveway and sidewalk is an implied invitation.

    Although I think they still can require permits for commercial but not religious or political. Unless the homeowner specifically puts a "No Solicitation" sign on his property. The government can't interfere in the exchange of free speech.

    An interesting case on the political religious side is Stratton Ohio vs. Jehovah Witnesses.

    Justice John Paul Stevens
    The city ordinance specifically allows religious and charitable solicitation but prohibits Commercial solicitations. Apparently the courts have found that extending commercial activities to residential areas by going door to door does not fall under the 1st amendment in the same manner as religious or charitable solicitations do.

    The only reason I can figure they allow Cable TV solicitations, but even those are limited to specific promotion periods, is that the City grants the Cable companies a franchise. Might be hard to defend a prohibition against them when they first gave them the right to solicit business.
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    The city ordinance specifically allows religious and charitable solicitation but prohibits Commercial solicitations. Apparently the courts have found that extending commercial activities to residential areas by going door to door does not fall under the 1st amendment in the same manner as religious or charitable solicitations do.

    The only reason I can figure they allow Cable TV solicitations, but even those are limited to specific promotion periods, is that the City grants the Cable companies a franchise. Might be hard to defend a prohibition against them when they first gave them the right to solicit business.
    This is were Google failed me (or more than Likely I failed at my google searche) I read just the other day a Washington Supreme court decision were commercial free speech can't be stopped either, but that municipalities can require permits. Of course when I can't provide a cite that's just all hearsay, and your research might have turned up something that ruled mine null and void.

    Ok found it it wasn't a Washington court decision it was a 9th, and it has been sometime SCOTUS, may have ruled differently.

    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/...42/635/282225/

    An injuction by a Federal Judge to Medina. http://www.mrsc.org/govdocs/M43DoorToDoor.pdf (not sure what Medina's code is though, maybe it was too broad at the time)
    Last edited by sudden valley gunner; 05-04-2011 at 09:48 AM.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    "Question on unauthorized trespassing on residential property"

    I thought all trespassing was unauthorized. Is there such a thing as authorized trespassing?

    Yeah. Obooba in the White House.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    "Question on unauthorized trespassing on residential property"

    I thought all trespassing was unauthorized. Is there such a thing as authorized trespassing?

    Me while working in Oklahoma or California.

    Or if you get a court order.
    Last edited by OldCurlyWolf; 05-05-2011 at 06:11 PM.
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