Trespassing Laws in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C

Commercial properties and construction sites are top targets for trespassers. More than 1,000 pieces of commercial equipment are stolen every month, for example. At other times they’re simply seeking the thrill of being somewhere they shouldn’t.

Property managers must safeguard their premises with commercial security systems in either instance to protect people and possessions. Investing in monitored video surveillance services is a cost-effective and reliable way to safeguard commercial sites of all kinds and is the perfect complement to knowing the trespassing laws in your region. This guide will detail some regional rules and who to call for surveillance and security advice.

General Trespassing Laws in Maryland

Video Surveillance No Trespassing

Maryland law is on the property owner’s side when it comes to trespassers, but commercial properties must do their part to maximize the chances of deterrence or a successful prosecution. Trespassers aren’t all amateurs and can maneuver around the rules if given enough room. The three main points to remember are:

Verbal Warnings Can Suffice

Commercial properties or their agents can inform any party to immediately leave private property if they do not have permission to be present. Remaining on the property after such notification constitutes trespassing.

“No Trespassing” Signs Must Be Well-Planned

Simply posting one or more of these signs on commercial property is not enough. Maryland law dictates that in order for “no trespassing” signs to be legally valid they must:

  • Be strategically positioned at all possible points of entry, be they constructed or natural, such as entrances, exits, roads, or adjoining waterways and land
  • Be fully visible at all times
  • Be clearly legible

Security experts would recommend that maintaining visibility for these signs involves sufficient lighting for nighttime hours. It’s also a good idea to secure the signs to their supporting surface; this way they can’t be removed by any trespasser trying to cover their tracks by saying there was no visible sign.

Trespassers Can Be Prosecuted and Fined

First offense trespassing is a misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine and/or up-to 90 days imprisonment. These punishments can double for a second trespassing offense within two years of the first. The maximum penalty is one year’s imprisonment and/or a $2,500 fine.

Maryland businesses can find more detailed information about state trespassing laws by reviewing Title 6, Subtitle 4 of the Maryland Criminal Code.

General Trespassing Laws in Virginia

No Trespassing Construction Site

Virginia’s laws echo those of Maryland by viewing trespassing as the act of entering a person’s private property without permission. This is more clearly defined as:

  • Entering a property where “no trespassing” signs may be reasonably seen
  • Entering against the spoken or written refusal of that right by the owner or coming onto property in violation of a court order
  • Remaining on private property when told to leave

Offenders are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is a serious charge second only to a felony. Convicted trespassers can face a maximum of 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. These punishments also apply to another form of trespassing – unlawful entry – where the offender enters with intent to damage or interfere with the owner’s rights. This carries a possible escalated sentence of five years.

Virginia’s legal community reminds private property owners that all care must be taken to prominently and legibly display “no trespassing” signs to discourage unwanted entry and support any possible court action.

General Trespassing Laws in Washington, D.C.

This nation’s capital concurs with Maryland and Virginia on the definition of trespassing. Offenders can be punished by up to 180 days in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. The same importance is placed on the clear display of “no trespassing” signs to complement an owner’s vocal and written authority. The main difference in D.C. is that trespassing laws pertain to public buildings and property as well as private ones.

The Top 4 Benefits of Monitoring Commercial Sites

Video Surveillance No Trespassing Agent

It is highly unlikely that any trespasser on a commercial or construction site does so innocently or unknowingly. Such locations are highly conspicuous, meaning unwanted visitors are probably troublemakers. Installing video surveillance deepens your security and strengthens your legal stance by providing:

Extra Visual Deterrent

Prominently displayed signs forbidding trespassing are bolstered by video surveillance cameras placed in high visibility and hard-to-reach spots. Cameras are among the first thing trespassers look for when considering unwanted entry. Make sure they see one, because it’s a deterrent that’s especially effective against burglars.

A Reliable Witness

Even a site with proper signage where the owner has engaged with a trespasser to ask them to leave could still lose out if it went to court. Video cameras deliver multiple angles and live feeds, providing evidence that a transgression did occur and that the defendant and the accused acted in a certain way.

An Effective Blend of Human and Machine

Commercial and construction sites needn’t think of video surveillance as merely a passive witness to trespassing. Video surveillance agents can speak directly to the perpetrator from their center of operations, allowing them to vocally interact with and warn off potential trespassers.

Security That Moves With You

Construction companies are never tied to a single site. Staff and equipment must go where the contract requires, making fixed security an unworkable option. Mobile video surveillance trailers provide flexible security free of location restrictions to deliver reliable footage when you need it at a price far below the cost of hiring physical security guards.

Working with experienced security professionals gives commercial sites the best of both worlds: state-of-the-art technology and reliable, actionable advice to increase peace of mind. Speak to a team that’s dedicated to deterring trespassers and protecting your people and property to bolster your security profile.

Contact Mobile Video Guard With Any Questions

Knowing the law is one of the most powerful protective tools you can employ, and that certainly goes for trespassing laws. Mobile Video Guard employs remote video surveillance agents who are trained to know the laws and when to alert the authorities. 

Investing in live video surveillance provides the security of keeping commercial and construction sites of all kinds monitored 24/7 so trespassers and other criminals are thwarted quickly. Contact our team and speak to an expert today.

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