Trespass on Private Property

Trespassing on private property remains a persistent legal issue throughout Oklahoma. State law has many requirements and rules about property boundaries, property owner rights, and the consequences of unauthorized entry onto private land.

What is trespass?

Trespass is the unauthorized entry onto another person’s property, or the act of causing someone or something to enter onto another person’s property. It can involve physical intrusion onto land across invisible legal boundaries, or the more clear circumstances of entering into structures like homes, buildings, or vehicles. Trespassing can be intentional or unintentional, but it typically hinges on the absence of permission from the property owner.

Can I exclude people from my property?

Oklahoma law allows property owners the right to control who and what enters their property – unless that right has been given to someone else. In the case of a landlord who has rented their property to a tenant, the tenant gets to decide who and what to exclude from their leased premises. In the case of a private business owner, the business gets to decide who can or cannot enter their store.

Types of Trespass

Trespass can occur in many forms, each carrying distinct legal consequences:

Criminal Trespass: This involves entering another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime or knowingly violating a “no trespassing” sign or order. This type of trespass can result in criminal charges, fines, or even jail time.

Civil Trespass: Civil trespass occurs when someone enters private property without permission but without the intent to commit a crime. While it is not a criminal offense, the property owner may have legal grounds to sue for damages.

Liabilities of Trespassers

Trespassers can face several legal consequences, both criminal and civil, depending on the circumstances. Criminal trespassers can be charged with crimes by the county, state, tribal, or federal officials. Civil trespassers can be sued in county, tribal, or federal court for the damage caused while trespassing. Trespassers may also be responsible for the legal costs incurred by the property owner in pursuing a lawsuit.

What can I do if someone trespasses on my property in Oklahoma?

Property owners who are affected by trespass have several legal avenues for recourse. First, they can call local law enforcement in the case of any trespass, but particularly with a criminal trespass. Property owners can file a lawsuit against the trespasser and ask for any reasonable compensation, including damage to the property, value for the use of the property, repairs that are required, medical bills for injuries caused, and more. Another extremely useful tool for property owners is the ability to ask the court for an injunction, which is a type of court order that can prohibit a trespasser from entering the property in the future.

What happens if someone trespasses and I do nothing? (Adverse Possession)

In some instances, Oklahoma law allows squatters to obtain actual legal title to property upon which they trespassed. That means the person who bought or inherited the property can lose ownership if the squatter satisfies certain requirements of the squatters rights rule, known as adverse possession. See our article on fence line encroachments and adverse possession for more information.

Real Estate Attorneys You Can Trust.

Trespass on private property is often a serious legal matter. While property owners have the right to protect their property, they must do so within the bounds of the law. Consult with legal counsel to ensure that your property rights are protected. Contact Avenue Legal Group to discuss your trespass matter.



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