Connecticut: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, dwellings, land, vehicles.
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor
- Fencing Required?: Yes, for certain scheduled crimes if sign not posted.
- Signage Required?: Yes, for certain scheduled crimes if premises not fenced.
- Verbal Notice Required?: No.
Connecticut Trespassing Law Overview
Connecticut’s laws on trespassing are fairly typical of most states. All trespassing is a misdemeanor, and one is trespassing in general if they are on property that they know they should not be on, is fenced, or has posted signage forbidding trespassing.
These trespassing laws are in effect for vehicles, vacant land, buildings and dwellings, whether rented or not.
In contrast with other states whose trespassing laws have provisions for trespassing in occupied property, Connecticut makes that a separate crime classified as home invasion.
Other than that, Connecticut’s laws are pretty easy to understand. We will give you the detailed breakdown of the statutes you need to know in the sections just below.
Relevant Connecticut State Statutes
- Section 53a-100
- Section 53a-100aa
- Section 53a-107
- Section 53a-108
- Section 53a-109
- Section 53a-110
- Section 53a-110a
The place to begin as always when discussing laws is at the beginning in the definitions.
If you don’t know the definitions, including those for words that you probably take for granted, you may not have a full scope and understanding of the law.
This can seriously get you in trouble as you might imagine. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, even when it is stupidly and obtusely written.
Connecticut’s definitions regarding their trespassing laws are found in section 53a-100:
Section 53a-100 – Definitions.
(a) The following definitions are applicable to this part:
(1) “Building” in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes any watercraft, aircraft, trailer, sleeping car, railroad car or other structure or vehicle or any building with a valid certificate of occupancy. Where a building consists of separate units, such as, but not limited to separate apartments, offices or rented rooms, any unit not occupied by the actor is, in addition to being a part of such building, a separate building;
(2) “dwelling” means a building which is usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night, whether or not a person is actually present;
(3) “night” means the period between thirty minutes after sunset and thirty minutes before sunrise; and
(4) “public land” means a state park, state forest or municipal park or any other publicly-owned land that is open to the public for active or passive recreation.
(b) The following definition is applicable to sections 53a-100aa to 53a-106, inclusive: A person “enters or remains unlawfully” in or upon premises when the premises, at the time of such entry or remaining, are not open to the public and when the actor is not otherwise licensed or privileged to do so.
As with many other states, we see in Connecticut that the definition of building includes the ordinary meaning as well as including many vehicles and conveyances, including boats, aircrafts, trailers and any other vehicle or structure with a valid certificate of occupancy.
It also includes a rented room or rented apartment as distinct from the rest of the building.
One interesting passage in this section is the definition of night, which is defined as the time interval between 30 minutes after sunset, and 30 minutes before sunrise irrespective of any prescribed time.
It also makes mentioned in paragraph (b) that entering or remaining unlawfully in or on the premises of any building or place open to the public when not otherwise privileged and allowed to do so is also trespassing; you don’t get to hang out in the public park after hours and claim that as a defense against trespassing just because it is a public facility.
The fine details on trespassing in Connecticut as well as the penalty schedule are laid out in the subsequent sections, with criminal trespass in the first degree starting us off in section 53a-107:
Section 53a-107 – Criminal trespass in the first degree.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when:
(1) Knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises after an order to leave or not to enter personally communicated to such person by the owner of the premises or other authorized person; or
(2) such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises in violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to section 46b-15 or a protective order issued pursuant to section 46b-16a, 46b-38c, 54-1k or 54-82r by the Superior Court; or
(3) such person enters or remains in a building or any other premises in violation of a foreign order of protection, as defined in section 46b-15a, that has been issued against such person in a case involving the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person; or
(4) knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person enters or remains on public land after an order to leave or not to enter personally communicated to such person by an authorized official of the state or a municipality, as the case may be.
(b) Criminal trespass in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
Criminal trespass in the first degree is the worst category of trespassing Connecticut.
Someone commits criminal trespass in the first degree when they enter or remain on premises after being explicitly instructed not to do so verbally or by signage and they know they aren’t supposed to.
It also entails entering or remaining on property in flagrant disregard of a restraining order or a foreign order of protection.
Criminal trespass in the first degree is also committed if someone chooses to remain on public land after a specific order is issued for them to leave and stay away. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor which can get you a fine of $1,000 and a year in jail.
Now we move on to a slightly different spin on the same crime, criminal trespass in the second degree a Class B misdemeanor covered in section 53a-108:
Section 53a-108 – Criminal trespass in the second degree.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so,
(1) such person enters or remains in a building, or
(2) such person enters or remains on public land.
(b) Criminal trespass in the second degree is a class B misdemeanor.
So that is pretty short and sweet.
The principal differences between criminal trespass in the first degree in criminal trespass in the second degree is it the second degree variation of criminal trespassing lacks the passage in the statute stipulating that a person so trespassing has been informed by the owner, an owner’s agent or a law enforcement officer that they must stay away from the property but they still know they are illegally trespassing.
Criminal trespass in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor in the state of Connecticut.
Next we have Criminal trespass in the third degree, a Class C or Class B misdemeanor depending on the circumstances:
Section 53a-109 – Criminal trespass in the third degree.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so:
(1) Such person enters or remains in premises which are posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders or are fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders, or which belong to the state and are appurtenant to any state institution; or
(2) such person enters or remains in any premises for the purpose of hunting, trapping or fishing; or
(3) such person enters or remains on public land which is posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders or is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders.
(b) Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class C misdemeanor, except that any person found guilty under subdivision (2) of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a class B misdemeanor and fined not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars.
Criminal trespassing in the third degree is distinct from second and first degree instances of trespassing in that it specifically covers a person trespassing for the purposes of hunting, trapping or fishing without permission as well as entering or remaining on any premises other than any building that has posted no trespassing signage.
If there is no specific instruction to stay away given to the individual, then this is likely criminal trespassing in the third degree so long as no other crimes are being committed.
Criminal trespass in the third degree is a Class C misdemeanor unless someone trespasses on property with the intent of hunting, fishing or trapping illegally in which case it is upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor with the attendant fine of between $500 and $1,000.
The last category of trespassing in Connecticut is simple trespass, which is not even a misdemeanor but instead is an infraction:
Section 53a-110a – Simple trespass.
(a) A person is guilty of simple trespass when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person enters or remains in or on any premises without intent to harm any property.
(b) Simple trespass is an infraction.
Another short and concise passage in the state statutes. If one trespasses knowing they are not licensed or otherwise allowed to do so but does so on any premises or any building with no intent to harm the property or commit any other crime, it is classified as simple trespass.
I trust that most of our readers are not heading out to commit trespassing but it does beg the question how one would prove that they are trespassing without any other intent to do harm. I will leave you to puzzle over that.
As mentioned above, Connecticut is fairly unique in that its state statutes include a separate category of crimes against property in the form of a statute on home invasion, which normally is just a severe form of trespassing in several other states.
The most distinct factor classifying trespassing as home invasion is that home invasion is committed against a dwelling with the occupants present at the time of trespass occurs. Full passage is in section 53a-100aa:
Section 53a-100aa – Home invasion.
(a) A person is guilty of home invasion when such person enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling, while a person other than a participant in the crime is actually present in such dwelling, with intent to commit a crime therein, and, in the course of committing the offense:
(1) Acting either alone or with one or more persons, such person or another participant in the crime commits or attempts to commit a felony against the person of another person other than a participant in the crime who is actually present in such dwelling, or
(2) such person is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
(b) An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing” the offense if it occurs in an attempt to commit the offense or flight after the attempt or commission.
(c) Home invasion is a class A felony and any person found guilty under this section shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of which ten years may not be suspended or reduced by the court.
The statutes make clear that home invasion is committed when someone trespasses in a dwelling while the occupants are present, does so while armed, and furthermore does so with the intent of committing additional crimes or crime while inside.
This is actually a fairly stringent set of standards for determining home invasion compared to other states, many of which just specify that force is used to enter the dwelling while occupants are inside, making no other mention of any intent to commit further crimes.
As you might expect home invasion is a felony, and a serious one. Class A. That will net you 10 years in prison which furthermore may not be suspended or reduced in anyway by the court. Do the crime, do the time.
Connecticut, like some other states, also has a statute that lays out affirmative defenses against criminal trespass. Affirmative defenses don’t get you off scot-free if you are caught trespassing; you can dole them out when you have your day in court, and if you can prove it then the charges will be dropped.
In short, you’ll be taking your chances in the legal system if you plan on doing any sneaking and peeking in the state of Connecticut, so don’t push your luck. The list of affirmative defenses is found in section 53a-110:
Section 53a-110 – Affirmative defenses to criminal trespass
It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution for criminal trespass that:
(1) The building involved in the offense was abandoned; or
(2) the premises, at the time of the entry or remaining, were open to 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 a person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him to enter or remain, or that he was licensed to do so.
You don’t have much in the way of affirmative defenses to trespassing in the state of Connecticut.
If you trespass in a building that is abandoned or you can somehow prove that you had a reasonable belief that the owner of the premises you are trespassing on would have given you permission to enter or remain there, you can use that as an affirmative defense.
Interestingly, it also provides that being in or on the premises of a public building or plot of land during the hours which it is open to the public is an affirmative defense against trespassing.
I guess that is handy if the owner of said building has a vendetta against you since they cannot trespass you just for showing your face around their property. They at least have to tell you to go away first before you can be charged with trespassing.
Connecticut’s laws covering trespassing in all its forms are easy to understand, mostly short and to the point.
With the exception of home invasion which is classified as a separate crime, all types of trespassing in state of Connecticut are misdemeanors with the attendant penalty schedules.
Assuming you don’t go traipsing on property that is fenced, has posted “No Trespassing” signage or you haven’t been told explicitly to stay away from you should be just fine.