Understanding trespassing laws in your state is vital to understanding your rights and obligations as a property owner, and also to keep yourself safe from inadvertently trespassing upon the land or property of someone else.
If you live in the state of Georgia, you’ll be happy to know that the state statutes concerning trespassing are straightforward, easily understood, and written in mostly plain language.
Outside of a few special instances concerning damage to someone’s property being considered as trespassing also, everything you need to know is contained in one relatively short section.
This article will tell you everything about the most important parts of Georgia’s trespassing laws…
Georgia Trespassing Law Overview
- Trespassing is generally a misdemeanor charge in Georgia.
- Trespassing that results in a substantial damage to property may result in felony charges depending on the amount of damage caused.
What Constitutes Trespassing in Georgia?
In Georgia, trespassing is defined as knowingly and without authority under law entering in or upon or remaining in or upon the property, premises, vehicle, or other property of another person.
Pretty much everything you need to know about Georgia’s trespassing law is contained in section 16-7-21. If you read and understand this you know 90% of what you need to know regarding trespassing in the state.
Section 16-7-21. Criminal trespass(b) A person commits the offense of criminal trespass when he or she knowingly and without authority:
(1) Enters upon the land or premises of another person or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person for an unlawful purpose;
(2) Enters upon the land or premises of another person or into any part of any vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after receiving, prior to such entry, notice from the owner, rightful occupant, or, upon proper identification, an authorized representative of the owner or rightful occupant that such entry is forbidden; or
(3) Remains upon the land or premises of another person or within the vehicle, railroad car, aircraft, or watercraft of another person after receiving notice from the owner, rightful occupant, or, upon proper identification, an authorized representative of the owner or rightful occupant to depart.
Does Georgia Require “No Trespassing” Signs?
Yes, if specific verbal notice to the offender has not been given. Posted no trespassing signage serves as notice to anyone coming upon the property that trespassing is forbidden.
Entering in or upon a property that is posted counts as criminal trespass.
Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?
No, for certain types of developed property or agricultural acreage. More importantly, fencing is also not required on any property that has posted no trespassing signs.
What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?
None. Although some states allow the placement of conspicuous paint markings at property boundaries to count as posting, Georgia is not one of them. If you want to post a property you’ll have to use signage, not paint.
Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?
No, especially if your property is enclosed with a fence or if your driveway is barred with a gate. However, you might not have the easiest time trying to press charges against a solicitor depending on the reason for their visit.
Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in Georgia?
Absolutely. Though the trespassing laws in Georgia are pretty simple, trespassing is still a misdemeanor crime, and potentially a felony. Both instances can result in arrest!
Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?
Yes, especially in cases where property damage results, if you are dealing with a repeat offender, or if the trespassing was done with the commission or the furtherance of another crime in mind, particularly a felony.
Special Instances of Trespassing in Georgia
Georgia has several instances of trespassing that you wouldn’t necessarily think qualify as trespassing per se.
The vandalizing of a monument, plaque, grave marker, and other such fixtures or installations is considered criminal trespass.
Similarly, simply interfering in the usual operation of any public transportation, public sewage, drainage or water supply, public communication system, or any other public utility is considered criminal damage, but merely trespassing in any of these installations could be constituted as interference and get you slapped with that charge.
Lastly, interference with any government property by destruction or merely defacing or by obstructing passage into or out of any government property is its own charge.
Again, trespassing in a government installation could qualify under the wording of the statute.
You can take a look at both of the referenced statutes below.
6-7-22. Criminal damage to property in the first degree a) A person commits the offense of criminal damage to property in the first degree when he:
(1) Knowingly and without authority interferes with any property in a manner so as to endanger human life; or
(2) Knowingly and without authority and by force or violence interferes with the operation of any system of public communication, public transportation, sewerage, drainage, water supply, gas, power, or other public utility service or with any constituent property thereof.
(b) A person convicted of the offense of criminal damage to property in the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
16-7-24. Interference with government property
(a) A person commits the offense of interference with government property when he destroys, damages, or defaces government property and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
(b) A person commits the offense of interference with government property when he forcibly interferes with or obstructs the passage into or from government property and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.