There are multiple forms of Maryland criminal trespass charges, but all forms of criminal trespass in Maryland are jailable.
The two most frequently charged forms of criminal trespass in Maryland are trespass on posted property, and wanton trespass on private property. They both have the same penalty structure. The first violation carries a sentence of up to 90 days and $500, the second violation within two years of the first violation is punishable by up to 6 months and a fine of $1000, and a subsequent violation within two years after the preceding violation is punishable by up to one year and a fine of $2500.
Criminal vs. Civil Trespass
Broadly speaking, what differentiates a criminal trespass from a civil one is that you have to either have some sort of warning first, or do something worse than simply walking on to undifferentiated land for a trespass to be criminal. How you are warned, or what you did, differentiates which sort of criminal trespass you are guilty of, or if you are guilty of a criminal trespass at all.
Trespass on Posted Property
The crime of trespass on posted property in Maryland under CL § 6-402 requires that you enter or trespass on property that is conspicuously posted against trespass either by signs, or by paint markings made on trees or posts at each road entrance and adjacent to the edge of the property. When the trespass on posted property is on property that is posted by tree markings, the paint markings must be made using types and colors of paint that conform with the regulations of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
While trespass charges are sometimes based on paint on trees, trespassing on posted property charges are usually based on signs warning against trespass.
Wanton Trespass on Private Property
Wanton trespass on private property in Maryland under CL § 6-403 requires both that you know that you are trespassing, and that you have been notified not to trespass by the owner or the owner’s agent.
You have to be aware that you are trespassing to be guilty of wanton trespass on private property under CL § 6-403. Wanton means with recklessness or utter disregard toward the rights of the owner. If you enter land under the belief that you have a right to be there, that is not a wanton trespass, even you are wrong. If you genuinely and sanely believe you have a right to be there, you are not guilty of wanton trespass on private property.
You have to be warned by the owner or their agent before you can be guilty of wanton trespass on private property in Maryland. You may have seen signs on buildings that say “Police are authorized to act as agent of owner.” Those signs exist to make the police an agent of the owner that can order you to stay away.
A warning against trespass on private property doesn’t have an expiration date unless it is expressly provided. If you are warned not to trespass on private property by the owner or their agent, that warning lasts forever, unless revoked.
The different forms of trespass are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to be guilty of the crime of trespass on posted property, and also be guilty of the crime of wanton trespass on private property at the same time. You may have been warned by the owner, and also ignored no trespassing signs.
Not Every Trespass is Criminal
Not every trespass is a criminal trespass. If you walk on your neighbors lawn, you may have committed a civil trespass, but unless there are signs or markings posting against trespass, or you have been asked to stay away before, it is not a criminal trespass.
If you are accused of any sort of trespass, I can help. Whether the trespass you are accused of is a criminal charge, or part of a peace order case, let me help you with your problem. I have successfully dealt with these cases for many years. Call me today at (301) 556‑8709, so that we can fix your legal problems.