Trespassing in Virginia

Chris Voltin Criminal Law

The crime of trespassing in Virginia prohibits entering the land of another after having previously been forbidden from doing so. Va. Code 18.2-119 says that “if any person without authority of law goes upon or remains upon the lands, buildings or premises of another, or any portion or area thereof, after having been forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner, lessee, custodian or other person lawfully in charge thereof”…he or she is guilty of trespassing.” Many people are surprised to learn that trespassing is a Class 1 one misdemeanor punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.


No trespassing signs must be visible to provide adequate notice.

Contrary to popular belief, trespassing involves more than just going on someone else’s property without permission. The most common issue that arises in a Virginia trespassing case involve the type of notice that the defendant received advising that he or she was not allowed at a particular location. Even if there are “no trespassing” signs, the Commonwealth bears the burden of showing that they were in a location that was visible to the accused. If one is verbally barred from a location, there is often an issue with establishing that the person who barred the accused had the legal authority to prohibit someone from entering the property. This issue frequently arises when employees of a store bar an individual from a property. These types of trespassing cases can frequently be won by challenging the authority of the person who barred the defendant from the property. Finally, there are often issues regarding what specific area a person is prohibited from entering.

The attorneys at Goff Voltin have handled numerous trespassing cases in Newport News, Hampton, York County, Williamsburg/James City County, and other jurisdictions throughout Hampton Roads. Call our office today for a free consultation.