Florida Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

Florida: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, dwellings, land, vehicles.
  • Crime Class: Misdemeanor/Felony (if armed while trespassing)
  • Fencing Required? No, but trespassing across fencing may elevate penalty.
  • Signage Required? Yes, for certain classes of land to gain protection of law.
  • Verbal Notice Required? No.
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Florida Trespassing Law Overview

Florida has fairly comprehensive trespassing laws, but in keeping with typical state statutes there they are lengthy, long-winded and fairly obtuse in nature.

If you care to read through the state statutes as written, you’ll find it does not make for easy, breezy reading.

This can make it challenging for a layperson to understand exactly what the law means without attorney guidance.

Making matters somewhat more complicated, Florida classifies trespassing into groups of several different crimes, some of which are misdemeanors, but may be upgraded to felonies depending on if the trespasser carries a weapon, has intent to commit another crime and other factors.

Florida trespassing laws also cover everything from buildings and dwellings to vehicles and bare land. We will start dissecting these tricky passages below.

Relevant Florida State Statutes

  • 810.011 Definitions
  • 810.08 Trespass in Structure or Conveyance
  • 810.09 Trespass on Property Other Than Structure or Conveyance
  • 810.095 Trespass on School Property with Firearm or Other Prohibited Weapon
  • 810.097 Trespass Upon Grounds or Facilities of a School
  • 810.0975 School Safety Zones; Trespass Prohibited
  • 810.12 Unauthorized Entry on Land; Prima Facie Evidence of Trespass

We will start our journey into the twisting depths of Florida’s laws with Section 810.011 containing the definitions that will be important for understanding the rest of the chapter.

Make sure you pay close attention to the definitions of various “premises” throughout:

Chapter 810 – Burglary and Trespass

810.011 Definitions.—As used in this chapter:
(1) “Structure” means a building of any kind, either temporary or permanent, which has a roof over it, together with the curtilage thereof.

However, during the time of a state of emergency declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor under chapter 252 and within the area covered by such executive order or proclamation and for purposes of ss. 810.02 and 810.08 only, the term means a building of any kind or such portions or remnants thereof as exist at the original site, regardless of absence of a wall or roof.

(2) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether such building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night, together with the curtilage thereof.

However, during the time of a state of emergency declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor under chapter 252 and within the area covered by such executive order or proclamation and for purposes of ss. 810.02 and 810.08 only, the term includes such portions or remnants thereof as exist at the original site, regardless of absence of a wall or roof.

(3) “Conveyance” means any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car; and “to enter a conveyance” includes taking apart any portion of the conveyance.

However, during the time of a state of emergency declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor under chapter 252 and within the area covered by such executive order or proclamation and for purposes of ss. 810.02 and 810.08 only, the term “conveyance” means a motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car or such portions thereof as exist.

(5)(a) “Posted land” is that land upon which:

1. Signs are placed not more than 500 feet apart along, and at each corner of, the boundaries of the land, upon which signs there appears prominently, in letters of not less than 2 inches in height, the words “no trespassing” and in addition thereto the name of the owner, lessee, or occupant of said land. Said signs shall be placed along the boundary line of posted land in a manner and in such position as to be clearly noticeable from outside the boundary line; or

2.a. Conspicuous no trespassing notice is painted on trees or posts on the property, provided that the notice is:

(I) Painted in an international orange color and displaying the stenciled words “No Trespassing” in letters no less than 2 inches high and 1 inch wide either vertically or horizontally;

(II) Placed so that the bottom of the painted notice is not less than 3 feet from the ground or more than 5 feet from the ground; and

(III) Placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than 500 feet apart on agricultural land.

As you can read for yourself in the definitions above, a “building” describes any structure, whether permanent or semi-permanent. A “dwelling” is a building that is designed to lodge people at night.

You can also read where “conveyance” covers pretty much every vehicle imaginable in their state statutes as far as trespassing is concerned.

Do note that all of those paragraphs have provisions for expanding the definition of each in case a state of emergency is declared by the state’s governor.

Subsection 5(a) spells out in detail precisely what is required as far as signage and marking goes for posting “no trespassing” notices along the boundaries of property.

The gist is that the signs must be of a certain size, with the letters large enough to be read clearly and posted in intervals of no more than 500 feet apart.

The next section, 810.08, covers trespassing in a structure or conveyance:

810.08 – Trespass in Structure or Conveyance.

(1) Whoever, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters or remains in any structure or conveyance, or, having been authorized, licensed, or invited, is warned by the owner or lessee of the premises, or by a person authorized by the owner or lessee, to depart and refuses to do so, commits the offense of trespass in a structure or conveyance.

(2)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, trespass in a structure or conveyance is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(b) If there is a human being in the structure or conveyance at the time the offender trespassed, attempted to trespass, or was in the structure or conveyance, the trespass in a structure or conveyance is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(c) If the offender is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon, or arms himself or herself with such while in the structure or conveyance, the trespass in a structure or conveyance is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Any owner or person authorized by the owner may, for prosecution purposes, take into custody and detain, in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable length of time, any person when he or she reasonably believes that a violation of this paragraph has been or is being committed, and he or she reasonably believes that the person to be taken into custody and detained has committed or is committing such violation. …

Plainly stated if you should unlawfully enter any structure or conveyance (not bare land) without explicit permission or authorization, you are trespassing, and are likewise trespassing if you are within a structure or conveyance with permission, but having been told to leave refuse to do so.

Paragraph 2 subsection (c) also spells out the enhancement of the penalty schedule if one should trespass while armed, or so trespassing, arms oneself while on the premises.

Trespassing is normally a misdemeanor in all its forms in the state of Florida, but trespassing while armed is a third degree felony.

Section 810.09 covers trespassing on any property other than structures and conveyances:

810.09 – Trespass on Property Other Than Structure or Conveyance

(1)(a) A person who, without being authorized, licensed, or invited, willfully enters upon or remains in any property other than a structure or conveyance:

1. As to which notice against entering or remaining is given, either by actual communication to the offender or by posting, fencing, or cultivation as described in s. 810.011; or

2. If the property is the unenclosed curtilage of a dwelling and the offender enters or remains with the intent to commit an offense thereon, other than the offense of trespass, commits the offense of trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance.

(b) As used in this section, the term “unenclosed curtilage” means the unenclosed land or grounds, and any outbuildings, that are directly and intimately adjacent to and connected with the dwelling and necessary, convenient, and habitually used in connection with that dwelling.

(2)(a) Except as provided in this subsection, trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(c) If the offender is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense of trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance, he or she is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Any owner or person authorized by the owner may, for prosecution purposes, take into custody and detain, in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable length of time, any person when he or she reasonably believes that a violation of this paragraph has been or is being committed, and that the person to be taken into custody and detained has committed or is committing the violation. …

This section defines trespassing on any property that is not a structure or conveyance as a separate crime, one with a slightly lesser penalty.

A specific interest is the use of the word curtilage, which is a fancy Scrabble-winning word that essentially means the attached grounds around a structure on a piece of property.

An easy example is your yard extending out from your home to the sidewalk or boundary of your land. Someone can be trespassing on your yard, without trespassing inside your home, which is distinct in the state of Florida.

Like the previous section, trespassing on any property other than a building or conveyance is a misdemeanor, except if the person is armed while doing it in which case it is upgraded to a third degree felony.

Trespassing on school property is also a separate crime in Florida, one with two variations- trespassing with a weapon, and trespassing without. Trespassing on school property with a firearm or other weapon is covered in section 810.095:

810.095 – Trespass on School Property With Firearm or Other Weapon Prohibited.

(1) It is a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, for a person who is trespassing upon school property to bring onto, or to possess on, such school property any weapon as defined in s. 790.001(13) or any firearm.

(2) As used in this section, “school property” means the grounds or facility of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic.

That is about as short as you will ever see state statutes in Florida. Simply stated it is a felony of the third degree to trespass on the any school property or merely possess on any school property a weapon as defined in section 790.001(13).

The short and sweet laws never last in Florida. The very next section covers the rest of the trespassing on school grounds statutes:

810.097 – Trespass Upon Grounds or Facilities of a School; Penalties; Arrest.

(1) Any person who:

(a) Does not have legitimate business on the campus or any other authorization, license, or invitation to enter or remain upon school property; or

(b) Is a student currently under suspension or expulsion;

and who enters or remains upon the campus or any other facility owned by any such school commits a trespass upon the grounds of a school facility and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) Any person who enters or remains upon the campus or other facility of a school after the principal of such school, or his or her designee, has directed such person to leave such campus or facility or not to enter upon the campus or facility, commits a trespass upon the grounds of a school facility and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(5) As used in this section, the term “school” means the grounds or any facility, including school buses, of any kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, or secondary school, whether public or nonpublic.

If you do not have any legitimate business being on school grounds, and are on school grounds, that means you are trespassing.

Also as a student if you’ve been expelled from the school and return to school grounds, that is automatically trespassing.

This is a misdemeanor, but if you have been personally told off by any campus faculty and refused to leave the misdemeanor is upgraded.

Lastly we have Section 810.12 which defines prima facie evidence of trespass:

810.12 – Unauthorized Entry on Land; Prima Facie Evidence of Trespass.

(1) The unauthorized entry by any person into or upon any enclosed and posted land shall be prima facie evidence of the intention of such person to commit an act of trespass.

(2) The act of entry upon enclosed and posted land without permission of the owner of said land by any worker, servant, employee, or agent while actually engaged in the performance of his or her work or duties incident to such employment and while under the supervision or direction, or through the procurement, of any other person acting as supervisor, foreman, employer, or principal, or in any other capacity, shall be prima facie evidence of the causing, and of the procurement, of such act by the supervisor, foreman, employer, principal, or other person.

There is no affirmative defense for trespassing in the state of Florida.

Conclusion

Florida’s laws covering trespassing are predominantly logical, but they are very lengthy and not easy to understand considering there are so many minute variations spread across so many sections of the law.

Despite the crunchy reading, if you take the time to go over it a couple of times you will see that Florida trespassing laws are mostly fair, and so long as you do not flagrantly trespass upon someone’s property you are unlikely to run afoul of any trouble.

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