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Bose Law Firm, PLLC
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Email: bose@boselawfirm.com

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Springfield, VA 22152


Virginia Code § 18.2-119 defines the crime of trespassing as follows:

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, or after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by such persons or by the holder of any easement or other right-of-way authorized by the instrument creating such interest to post such signs on such lands, structures, premises or portion or area thereof at a place or places where it or they may be reasonably seen, or if any person, whether he is the owner, tenant or otherwise entitled to the use of such land, building or premises, goes upon, or remains upon such land, building or premises after having been prohibited from doing so by a court of competent jurisdiction by an order issued pursuant to §§ 16.1-253, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-278.2 through 16.1-278.6, 16.1-278.8, 16.1-278.14, 16.1-278.15, 16.1-279.1, 19.2-152.8, 19.2-152.9 or § 19.2-152.10 or an ex parte order issued pursuant to § 20-103, and after having been served with such order, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not be construed to affect in any way the provisions of §§ 18.2-132 through 18.2-136.

The issue in many trespassing cases is twofold: has proper notice been provided that the person is not welcome in a particular area and exactly what area is the person prohibited from entering. The code identifies potentially four different ways in which notice of no trespassing may be accomplished. The four ways are: by oral request by a person in authority, by written request by a person in authority, by a posted sign in an area where it may reasonably be seen, by court order pursuant to specific code sections, even if the order is ex parte. An ex parte order is an order entered by a judge where the person who is the subject of the order is not present at the time the order is entered. For a person to be convicted of trespassing after the entering of an ex parte order, that person must have actually been served with a copy of the order. This means a sheriff or other properly authorized individual, delivered a copy of the order to the person who is the subject of the no trespass provision. A written or oral no trespass request can be for both public and private locations. For instance, places of business can request a person not to return to their location. Even a city can request that an individual not return to a certain park or parks. However, a private business can’t ban a person from an area that is public access nor can a city ban a person from an area when doing so would interfere with a constitutionally protected right.