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  1. #1
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    Default PA trespassing laws

    Could someone explain to me what the PA trespassing laws consist of.

    I do some fox hunting at night and occasionally I'll hunt a field or wood strip that we don't have permission from the land owner. Sometimes I know who the land owner is, but he don't live locally. I want to make sure that I'm legal doing this. I really don't want to get a citation

    To my understanding of the PA trespass laws the only way I can be arrested while hunting on private property with out permission is.

    1. If the owner has the land posted or clearly marked with no trespassing signs.

    2. If the owner has told me to stay off his land (verbal or by letter).

    3. If I am damaging crops or any part of the property

    4. If I am endangering any person.

    5. If I am violating a hunting law (like a safety zone)


    Recently I was talking to a land owner that told me that if there is a "no trespassing" notice in the local paper, this would give the police the power to arrest anyone who would trespass regardless if the property was marked or not.



    Here are the PA laws regarding general trespassing


    18 Pa.C.S. 3503: Criminal trespass
    (a) Buildings and occupied structures.--
    (1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he:
    (i) enters, gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or
    (ii) breaks into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.
    (2) An offense under paragraph (1)(i) is a felony of the third degree, and an offense under subparagraph (1)(ii) is a felony of the second degree.
    (3) As used in this subsection:
    "Breaks into." To gain entry by force, breaking, intimidation, unauthorized opening of locks, or through an opening not designed for human access.
    (b) Defiant trespasser.--
    (1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
    (i) actual communication to the actor;
    (ii) posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders;
    (iii) fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders;
    (iv) notices posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person's attention at each entrance of school grounds that visitors are prohibited without authorization from a designated school, center or program official; or
    (v) an actual communication to the actor to leave school grounds as communicated by a school, center or program official, employee or agent or a law enforcement officer.
    (2) Except as provided in paragraph (1)(v), an offense under this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree if the offender defies an order to leave personally communicated to him by the owner of the premises or other authorized person. An offense under paragraph (1)(v) constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree. Otherwise it is a summary offense.
    (b.1) Simple trespasser.--
    (1) A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place for the purpose of:
    (i) threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant of the premises;
    (ii) starting or causing to be started any fire upon the premises; or
    (iii) defacing or damaging the premises.
    (2) An offense under this subsection constitutes a summary offense.
    (b.2) Agricultural trespasser.--
    (1) A person commits an offense if knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so he:
    (i) enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands when such lands are posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person's attention or are fenced or enclosed in a manner manifestly designed to exclude trespassers or to confine domestic animals; or
    (ii) enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands and defies an order not to enter or to leave that has been personally communicated to him by the owner of the lands or other authorized person.
    (2) An offense under this subsection shall be graded as follows:
    (i) An offense under paragraph (1)(i) constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than one year and a fine of not less than $250.
    (ii) An offense under paragraph (1)(ii) constitutes a misdemeanor of the second degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than two years and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000.
    (3) For the purposes of this subsection, the phrase "agricultural or other open lands" shall mean any land on which agricultural activity or farming as defined in section 3309 (relating to agricultural vandalism) is conducted or any land populated by forest trees of any size and capable of producing timber or other wood products or any other land in an agricultural security area as defined in the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L. 128, No. 43), [FN1] known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, or any area zoned for agricultural use.
    (c) Defenses.--It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:
    (1) a building or occupied structure involved in an offense under subsection (a) of this section was abandoned;
    (2) the premises were at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises; or
    (3) the actor reasonably believed that the owner of the premises, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain.
    (d) Definition.--As used in this section, the term "school grounds" means any building of or grounds of any elementary or secondary publicly funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education, any elementary or secondary parochial school, any certified day-care center or any licensed preschool program.


    Here are the PA laws reguarding trespassing while hunting

    2314. Trespass on private property while hunting.
    (a) General rule.--Any person who while violating any
    provision of this title or any regulations promulgated under
    this title and who in addition is found to be trespassing as
    defined in 18 Pa.C.S. 3503 (relating to criminal trespass)
    shall be in violation of this section.
    (b) Penalty.--A violation of this section:
    (1) For a first offense is a summary offense.
    (2) For a second or subsequent offense within one year
    of the prior offense is a summary offense and upon conviction
    will result in an immediate revocation of the person's
    hunting and furtaking license and disqualification of the
    person from issuance of a future license for a period of one
    year from the date of revocation.
    (Dec. 22, 2005, P.L.467, No.90, eff. 60 days)

    2005 Amendment. Act 90 added section 2314.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    WOW....if you're knowingly tresspassing on someone's land....
    at night.......
    armed......
    a citation might be the least of your worries.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Quote Originally Posted by foxfx View Post
    Could someone explain to me what the PA trespassing laws consist of.

    I do some fox hunting at night and occasionally I'll hunt a field or wood strip that we don't have permission from the land owner. Sometimes I know who the land owner is, but he don't live locally. I want to make sure that I'm legal doing this. I really don't want to get a citation

    To my understanding of the PA trespass laws the only way I can be arrested while hunting on private property with out permission is.

    1. If the owner has the land posted or clearly marked with no trespassing signs.

    2. If the owner has told me to stay off his land (verbal or by letter).

    3. If I am damaging crops or any part of the property

    4. If I am endangering any person.

    5. If I am violating a hunting law (like a safety zone)


    Recently I was talking to a land owner that told me that if there is a "no trespassing" notice in the local paper, this would give the police the power to arrest anyone who would trespass regardless if the property was marked or not.

    [cropped the law quote to save space]
    You still need permission of the landowner to hunt on their property regardless if it is posted or not. You are trespassing(commonlaw) if you do not have explicit or implied consent to be on the lands, it become a criminal offense if you are told not to be there, land is posted, there are fences/walls/shrubs/etc placed to deter ingress/egress.

    To find the land owner, all you have to do is go to the court house and look up the parcel in the deeds/tax maps and records. The tax record will have a mailing address so that you can contact them.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Quote Originally Posted by thanker92 View Post
    WOW....if you're knowingly tresspassing on someone's land....
    at night.......
    armed......
    a citation might be the least of your worries.
    yeah no kidding, intentionally breaking the law at night with a gun... how stupid can you be? Lets just hope like hell that no property owners are out for an evening stroll when you decide to shoot, lets hope they don't let their dogs out on THEIR land to run around and have fun, lets hope they aren't out hunting as well and see you
    The first vehicles normally on the scene of a crime are ambulances and police cruisers. If you are armed you have a chance to decide who gets transported in which vehicle, if you are not armed then that decision is made for you.

    Be prepared, because someone else already is and no one knows their intent except them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    sounds like you need to develop some relationships with local farmers and restrict your activities to ground you have previously arranged.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    I think he wanted to discuss the intricacies of the fact that he is not "technically" trespassing as the statutes are written. Not so much as how unwise it is. He seems to get that.

    Be safe (and ask for permission, not forgiveness).

    Scott

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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Quote Originally Posted by knight0334 View Post
    You still need permission of the landowner to hunt on their property regardless if it is posted or not. You are trespassing(commonlaw) if you do not have explicit or implied consent to be on the lands, it become a criminal offense if you are told not to be there, land is posted, there are fences/walls/shrubs/etc placed to deter ingress/egress.

    To find the land owner, all you have to do is go to the court house and look up the parcel in the deeds/tax maps and records. The tax record will have a mailing address so that you can contact them.


    Commonwealth v. Sweeley, 29 Pa. D. & C.4th 426, 433 (C.P. 1995) ("Open lands that are not posted or fenced off are presumed open for recreational use by the public, especially in rural counties where hunting and outdoor activities are common.").

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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Ok, you don't have to fly off the handle from my question. I'm not talking about sneeking into someone's back yard. By sneaking unto someones property near their house, I'd run a great risk of getting arrested or even shot.

    I'm glad you guys have never hunted or fished a piece of privately owned land with out permission. applause.....

    I'm talking about an patch of woods far away from any buildings. I would be just doing a set in the guys field about 40 yards off the road. I was just wondering what kind of legal action he could bring against me "if" I was to get hassled. There is no fence and no signs. According to conditions listed in the PA trespass laws, I would not be breaking any of them.
    Last edited by foxfx; July 7th, 2009 at 06:49 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Quote Originally Posted by foxfx View Post
    I'm talking about an patch of woods far away from any buildings. I would be just doing a set in the guys field about 40 yards off the road. I was just wondering what kind of legal action he could bring against me "if" I was to get hassled.
    You consider just asking the property owner for permission? Seems like commonsense to me but who knows anymore. :\

  10. #10
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    Default Re: PA trespassing laws

    Quote Originally Posted by foxfx View Post
    Ok, you don't have to fly off the handle from my question. I'm not talking about sneeking into someone's back yard. By sneaking unto someones property near their house, I'd run a great risk of getting arrested or even shot.

    I'm glad you guys have never hunted or fished a piece of privately owned land with out permission. applause.....

    I'm talking about an patch of woods far away from any buildings. I would be just doing a set in the guys field about 40 yards off the road. I was just wondering what kind of legal action he could bring against me "if" I was to get hassled. There is no fence and no signs. According to conditions listed in the PA trespass laws, I would not be breaking any of them.
    so you are going on private property and setting traps?...
    The first vehicles normally on the scene of a crime are ambulances and police cruisers. If you are armed you have a chance to decide who gets transported in which vehicle, if you are not armed then that decision is made for you.

    Be prepared, because someone else already is and no one knows their intent except them.

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