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How is trespassing defined in Missouri? 

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Trespassing is illegal in Missouri, but people sometimes don’t know exactly how the statutes were written or what constitutes trespassing. This can lead to situations where someone accidentally violates the law.

Essentially, a first-degree trespassing charge happens when a person unlawfully enters a building on purpose. They have to have the intent to do so. 

There are also some situations in which they may intentionally stay in a location illegally, even if they didn’t know that it was unlawful for them to go there initially. For instance, someone who was just following their friends and then realized the law was being broken needs to leave immediately. Knowingly staying in that space could lead to allegations of trespassing.

Does this apply to real estate?

The restrictions above are for when people enter businesses, homes or other structures. But someone can also trespass on a piece of real estate. It just needs to be enclosed or fenced in so that the person understands that they are not supposed to be in that location without permission. Even if there isn’t a fence, there could be notices against trespassing, such as signs posted on trees. This is common in areas with farmland or where people own land for hunting. 

Intent does matter

When looking at first-degree trespassing, which is a Class B misdemeanor, intent is important. If someone accidentally enters the space, that’s very different than intentionally entering a location that they know is prohibited — or refusing to leave when asked.

Facing these types of charges can have serious ramifications for someone’s life. Anyone so charged needs to understand exactly what legal defense options they have.