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.
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 the 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 and 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 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.
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.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.
10 thoughts on “Florida Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know”
If I as a Private Investigator sneak into a gated community in Florida to do surveillance, but there are no “No Trespassing” signs on or around the gate, is that still considered trespassing? Also, regardless of the fact it is or is not trespassing, does that create a problem with any video evidence that is obtained?
Our farm was raided by a county dog catcher who had two deputies with her, she said, for protection. She and the deputies entered our farm yard going through a chained gate bordering the highway and posted signs on fence. They did not contact anyone about coming onto our property and we wouldn’t have even known they were there if I had not driven by and discovered their presence. We had a pen of about 30 young bulls and heifers who we had been treating for worms and a serious tick infestation. A few had died and others were struggling but most all were on the mend. When asked why they were there on the property the dog catcher said she had a right to go on or enter any property she wanted to. Also she said she had been watching us for a month. This we were not aware of and have no problem with. Our concern is if she had been watching us have a struggle with the cattle why did she not intervene in a civil capacity, but instead took it on herself to raid us one day and enter our property illegally. We at least feel she entered illegally, no one had a search warrant. All this led to my husbands and my arrest 2 months later for animal cruelty, and a list of other charges including a felony just for having some sick cows. Had she asked we would have explained the situation and let her enter the property legally and gladly took advice or offer of help. How does one protect oneself today? Justice is costly and seemingly non-existent!
you can’t and they don’t want you too. I was investigated for an undocumented or written rule called fence fighting. Where to animals of any kind get to going at each other from either side of a barrier such as a fence.
Any aggressive actions or barking in such a case can cause an action against you for animal control agents to use this reason to take action against the property owner. Pasco County Florida animal control. I eventually found out the CDC and the health dept. are in control of such rules and are dictated from these government agents or dictates. I put up a solid no see through fence called a wall!
A wall is not a fence!
For every rule there is an exception.
us supreme court ruled on this a month ago. if no trespass signs were present even if the gate is open they need a warrent.
I have a neighbor who repeatedly uses my lawn (curtilege) as an outfield to play catch with his son. He is unfriendly and our vibes are not compatible. When he plays catch with his son, most of the balls end up on my property. – between the hedges, 2 in my garage, under the car in the driveway, etc etc.. One mornig I returned 3 balls and his tactless response was, Im surprised there aren’t more. He was acting like my home was a joint purchase. It takes a certain amount of shamelessness to asert a baseless right on someone elses property. Previously, his wife and young son had politely asked to retrieve balls and I said sure and told them they didn’t need to ask pernission. They thanked me, I said you’re welcome – pleasantries all around. My first and only conversation with since they moved in aprox 2 years ago. Her husband took my invite and abused it with an attempt to intimidate and I allowed him to bask in his illusion. I am not talking about an errant ball here and there but daily instrusions into my yard while wearing an ugly scowl on his face as if daring me to say something. One day I dethatched my entire front lawn, fertilized and then watered. He immediately positioned his son (crying shame) in front of my yard and started throwing fast balls to him. I advised him that my yard was soggy with loose grass and to try and keep off. He rudely snorted, its going to be hard, he is just a kid. I walked towards him for clarification and he reversed course. I was advised by many to ban him from coming onto my property but for reasons mentioned above (polite wife and son) I declined.
dejavu. About a month later, I watered my lawn and his kids started playing immediately and a ball came rolling in my yard. A young girl came running and I politely stopped her, returned the ball and told her within earshot of the instigating father, it was private property. He immediately threw/batted a ball onto my property all the way up to the garage and came marching over with a repugnant demeanor stating, “listen up….. I stopped him from speaking and demanded he leave my property. He refused and told me of his greatness (elected, knowing a bunch of local political figures and law enforcement. While trespassing on my property he told me to leave him alone? I and 99% of Americans are wired differently as it seems he is unable to feel shame and is willing to assert a baseless right in front of his family It takes a certain level of tactlessness to try and force/intimidate a homeowner to give up rights on his own property. Parasitic type action. He then went o to brag about his elected position, importance and all of the powerful people he knows. There is some serious mis-wiring going on his cabesa. I explained that his so-called royalty had no value on my property and he should return to his home where said imporatance where it might be appreciated but on my property he is simply a tresspaser that needs a strong dosage of pride to negate his shameful tendancies. . He refused to leave and told me he will come on my property whenever he wants. I called the police and they advised him he was not welcome on my property and to keep off. A few days later I picked up the incidenI report and after reading his saintly version of events, I filled out a tresspass order, signed it, had it notorized and delivered to the police for entry into their data base.
Today, balls were batted towards my home but I didnt see him coming onto the property. I will check security film tomorrow.
Sorry about being longwinded but I summarized as best as I could. There is a lot more. (He believes he is above the law and the HOA had to threaten legal action against him to stop him from putting cones in the road and diverty opposing lanes of traffic into a single lane around a corner so that his kids could dangerously play in the street. )
My question is this, If he violates the trespass order as he stated he would, and I provide video proof (security cameras plus Ring doorbell) to the police, will he be arrested or does the police have discretion? This guy stated in no uncertain terms that he is above the law and I am pretty sure he will continue until consequences are realized.
Hopefully, he heeds the Tresspass order but if he violates it, I will try to get him arrested in the hopes that a misdemeanor arrest will teach him to respect a military veterans property. I will also contemplate a civil lawsuit to stop him from interferring with my right to quiet enjoyment and the pursuit of happiness.
BOY do I need help with my situation!
My Labrador Retriever puppy was attacked by a “free-range” chicken that was in our yard. My puppy did as he was bred to do and “retrieved” the chicken and brought it toward me ( again, in my yard) The chicken’s owner trespassed into my yard ( I have 6 signs and a blanket trespass order) and tried to choke out my puppy. In the process, his 190lbs killed his chicken when he rolled on top of it, in my yard. He called our Sheriff’s department, who issued a ” Verbal Trespass order against me. I have never been in or around the persons yard. Is it legal to trespass someone who has never been in or around someone’s property?
I experienced a typical problem recently that is probably commonplace everywhere. Tree cutting on my property. I have a deep property that extends all the way back to the rear boundry where there is a wood stockade type fence. A neighboring property abuts that fence but is not visible. My land is mowed clean right up to the fence. 25 feet in from the fence my side is a stand of scrub oak, scrub pine and other assorted Florida underbrush. I mow around it to keep it groomed. One of the oaks has two nice limbs protruding horizontally from the tree in the direction toward the fenced property line, 8 feet from the ground and with foliage providing nice shade. They do not touch the fence or overhang the line. I hired an Arborist to trim and groom that area to keep it nice. Recently while driving my mower back there, I noticed all my shade is gone! Somebody somewhere took the liberty to enter my property, walk 25 feet in and cut those two limbs off and hide the logs in the underbrush. My side by side neighbors also have large properties and did not see anything. I called the utilities to see if they were tree trimming for power lines but replied that they are not trimming in that area. My neighbors on both sides have much taller and fuller encroachment right up against their respective fences and nobody cut back their stuff. I can only surmise that the people behind us whom we never met climbed over the fence with ladders, Illegally entered my property and Illegally cut back my tree. The Volusia County Sheriffs Dept Deputy reach out and of course asked: Do you have cameras? No. Did you see who did it? No. He provided a case number and said to refer to this if it happens again. It is better to report this now than to wait until next time and be asked why you didn’t report this sooner. I don’t mind if people come over to maintain their fence or weed whack but to decide for no reason at all that they’re going to walk 25 feet in and cut my trees simply because they feel like it is brazen and illegal. It was an isolated incident. I am installing compliant No Trespassing signs along my rear property line to protect my rights and hopefully deter any more stupidity.
I worked at a hospital as the facilities coordinator and during that time, I found some unethical dealings by the Director. I called the ethics line and made a report. The director fired me several weeks later on March 28, 2021. Since that date, I have been to the hospital four (4) times. First was to get my mailbox key that I had left, Second was to see if my shoe shine kit was still there, third was to talk to the COO, and the last time, I went to see about becoming a volunteer. Before I could even get out of the car, hospital security showed up, wouldn’t let me leave and the cops showed up and formally trespassed me.
Regarding rental houses, if my rental is vacant & being advertised for rent, AND has NO Trespassing signs properly posted in the windows and elsewhere does that provide LE with the tool they need to remove a squatter who may enter the house & lay claim?
Would I still be required to go through the eviction process. Even though I had signs up, and dated photo evidence of signs having been put up.