Wrong place or wrong time? Doesn’t matter. Trespassing in Virginia is a class one misdemeanor. If you get charged, you could be facing up to a year in prison and or a $2,500.00 fine. So, what is trespassing? Are you guilty? Find out what you should do if you get arrested for trespassing in Virginia.
Entry or Remaining
In order to be found guilty of trespassing in Virginia, the Government has to prove two things: that you entered or remained on a property and that you knew or should have known you weren’t supposed to enter. In order to satisfy this first part, you have to be physically on the land, not just behind a fence or on a sidewalk. Sometimes, you can have permission to be on the land and that permission is then revoked such as when a store closes and you are hiding in the bathroom. If you were not on the land or observed being on the land, then you are innocent of trespassing in Virginia.
The second thing the government has to prove is that you were forbidden from being on the property by the owner or their agents. You can be forbidden either in writing, orally, or by a sign on the property. Additionally, the government could prove that it can be reasonably ascertained that the area is forbidden such as a clearly abandoned house or a shopping mall after closing. So, if you get arrested for trespassing in Virginia, ask yourself, was I forbidden from that location? Was I told no to return? Was there a sign? Should I have reasonably seen that I wasn’t supposed to be there? If the answers to those questions are no, then you are innocent of trespassing.
What do I do now?
Regardless if you are innocent or guilty of trespassing in Virginia, you should get a lawyer. For any offense that carries potential jail time, a lawyer should represent you so that your specific circumstances are conveyed to the court and someone is looking out for your best interests. This article should not be construed as specific legal advice for your situation. If you believe you are guilty of trespassing in Virginia please find a lawyer who can help you if you live near Fairfax, Loudon, and Arlington and Prince William counties.