Hawaii Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

Hawaii: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, dwellings, land, vehicles.
  • Crime Class: Misdemeanor/Felony
  • Fencing Required?: Yes, for certain scheduled crimes.
  • Signage Required?: Yes, for certain scheduled crimes.
  • Verbal Notice Required?: No.
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Hawaii Trespassing Law Overview

Hawaii is a state with intricate trespassing laws that run the gamut from simple violations for misdemeanors all the way up to felonies. The laws are spread across several sections in the state statutes, and most of them have various other conditions and statuses that must be met to qualify as trespassing.

Hawaii’s trespassing laws cover everything from buildings, vehicles and boats to private domiciles not merely occupied for the purposes of the criminal code, but occupied by people over a certain age in case the trespass occurs – and in that instance it will be classified as a different kind of crime! Tricky stuff! Let’s get to it.

Relevant Hawaii State Statutes

  • 708-800 Definitions
  • 708-812.6 Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the second degree
  • 708-812.55 Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the first degree
  • 708-813 Criminal trespass in the first degree
  • 708-814 Criminal trespass in the second degree
  • 708-814.5 Criminal trespass onto public parks and recreational grounds
  • 708-814.7 Criminal trespass onto state lands
  • 708-815 Simple trespass
  • 708-816 Defense to trespass

Hawaii’s section for definitions covering this chapter is extremely lengthy, and includes all kinds of definitions that are not entirely related to trespassing. For the purposes of brevity, I will omit most of them, except only those that are most pertinent:

708-800 Definitions of terms in this chapter

“Apartment building” means any structure containing one or more dwelling units which is not a hotel or a single-family residence.

“Building” includes any structure, and the term also includes any vehicle, railway car, aircraft, or watercraft used for lodging of persons therein; each unit of a building consisting of two or more units separately secured or occupied is a separate building.

“Dwelling” means a building which is used or usually used by a person for lodging.

“Hotel” means a structure in which a majority of the tenants are roomers or boarders.

“Premises” includes any building and any real property.

“Property” means any money, personal property, real property, thing in action, evidence of debt or contract, or article of value of any kind. Commodities of a public utility nature such as gas, electricity, steam, and water constitute property, but the supplying of such a commodity to premises from an outside source by means of wires, pipes, conduits, or other equipment shall be deemed a rendition of a service rather than a sale or delivery of property.


Of most concern to us regarding the rest of the state statutes on trespassing are the terms dwelling, premises and property. Premises and property mean any real property, which includes buildings, naturally, but also vacant land.

A dwelling is a building which is used by a person for lodging, for instance their home, apartment or a rented hotel or motel room. Basically, the place where a person goes to sleep at night.

The next section is the first doozy in a line of intricately worded and qualified Hawaii trespassing statutes, this one covering the crime of unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the second degree. Whew! What a mouthful! Let us read it and see what it says:

708-812.6 Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the second degree

(1) A person commits the offense of unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the second degree if the person intentionally or knowingly enters unlawfully into a dwelling and another person was lawfully present in the dwelling.

(2) Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the second degree is a class C felony.

(3) It shall be an affirmative defense that reduces this offense to a misdemeanor that, at the time of the unlawful entry:

(a) There was a social gathering of invited guests at the dwelling the defendant entered;

(b) The defendant intended to join the social gathering; and

(c) The defendant had no intent to commit any unlawful act other than the entry.


So there is a little bit to unpack in this section. To merely enter someone’s dwelling unlawfully when it is occupied is a felony in the state of Hawaii. They’re definitely not screwing around here!

But one can reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor should they illegally enter into a dwelling if there was a social gathering going on there, and they merely intended to join and in doing so had no intent to commit any other crime.

If that seems like an oddly specific set of circumstances to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, you aren’t the only one thinking it.

Next up is a related section, this one covering unauthorized entry into a dwelling in the first degree:

708-812.55 Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the first degree

(1) A person commits the offense of unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the first degree if the person intentionally or knowingly enters unlawfully into a dwelling and another person was, at the time of the entry, lawfully present in the dwelling who:

(a) Was sixty-two years of age or older;

(b) Was an incapacitated person; or

(c) Had a developmental disability.

(2) For the purposes of this section:

“Developmental disability” shall have the same meaning as in section 333E-2.

“Incapacitated person” shall have the same meaning as in section 560:5-102.

(3) Unauthorized entry in a dwelling in the first degree is a class B felony.

(4) It shall be an affirmative defense that reduces this offense to a misdemeanor that, at the time of the unlawful entry:

(a) There was a social gathering of invited guests at the dwelling the defendant entered;

(b) The defendant intended to join the social gathering as an invited guest; and

(c) The defendant had no intent to commit any unlawful act other than the entry.


This section closely parallels the previous one, with the exception that unauthorized entry in the first degree has the stipulation that a person lawfully present in the dwelling must be of sixty-two years of age or older, an incapacitated person, or possesses a developmental disability.

Like unauthorized entry of a dwelling in the second degree, this one is a felony, and may be reduced to a misdemeanor under the same conditions.

The next section covers criminal trespass in the first degree:

708-813 Criminal trespass in the first degree

(1) A person commits the offense of criminal trespass in the first degree if:

(a) That person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully:

(i) In a dwelling; or

(ii) In or upon the premises of a hotel or apartment building;

(b) That person:

(i) Knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises that are fenced or enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders; and

(ii) Is in possession of a firearm, as defined in section 134-1, at the time of the intrusion; or

(c) That person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon the premises of any public school as defined in section 302A-101, or any private school, after reasonable warning or request to leave by school authorities or a police officer; provided however, such warning or request to leave shall be unnecessary between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.


Criminal trespass in the first degree is the most serious on the penalty schedule for trespassing, it has the qualifications that a person must knowingly enter and remain on lawfully on the premises after crossing a fence or other obstruction designed to exclude intruders, and also being in possession of a firearm at the time.

In essence, if you are flagrantly trespassing while up to no good and armed with a gun, it is criminal trespass in the first degree.

Next we move on logically to criminal trespass in the second degree, covered helpfully in Section 708-814:

708-814 Criminal trespass in the second degree

(1) A person commits the offense of criminal trespass in the second degree if:

(a) The person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises that are enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or are fenced;

(b) The person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon commercial premises after a reasonable warning or request to leave by the owner or lessee of the commercial premises, the owner’s or lessee’s authorized agent, or a police officer; provided that this paragraph shall not apply to any conduct or activity subject to regulation by the National Labor Relations Act.

(c) The person enters or remains unlawfully on agricultural lands without the permission of the owner of the land, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of the land, and the agricultural lands:

(i) Are fenced, enclosed, or secured in a manner designed to exclude intruders;

(ii) Have a sign or signs displayed on the unenclosed cultivated or uncultivated agricultural land sufficient to give notice and reading as follows: “Private Property” or “Government Property – No Trespassing”. The sign or signs, containing letters no less than two inches in height, shall be placed at reasonable intervals no less than three signs to a mile along the boundary line of the land and at roads and trails entering the land in a manner and position as to be clearly noticeable from outside the boundary line; or

(d) The person enters or remains unlawfully on unimproved or unused lands without the permission of the owner of the land, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of the land, and the lands:

(i) Are fenced, enclosed, or secured in a manner designed to exclude the general public; or

Criminal trespass in the second degree is similar to criminal trespass in the first degree in that the trespasser must cross a fence or some other barrier to gain access to the land in question, but it omits the stipulation that they be armed to qualify for the charge.

Additionally, criminal trespass in the second degree also covers someone who remains unlawfully on any commercial premises after a warning or request to leave by the owner or owners authorized agent. This crime is a misdemeanor.

An entirely separate category of trespassing, that of criminal trespass onto public parks and recreational grounds is codified in Section 708-814.5:

708-814.5 Criminal trespass onto public parks and recreational grounds

(1) A person commits the offense of criminal trespass onto public parks and recreational grounds if the person remains unlawfully in or upon a public park or recreational ground after a request to leave is made by any law enforcement officer, when the request is based upon violation by the person of any term of use specified on a sign or notice posted on the property, or based on violation of any term of use contained in, or the expiration of, any permit relating to the person’s presence on the property.

(2) For the purposes of this section, unless the context requires otherwise:

“Law enforcement officer” has the same meaning as in section 710-1000.

“Public park or recreational ground” means any park, park roadway, playground, athletic field, beach, shore, beach or shore right-of-way, tennis court, golf course, swimming pool, or other recreational area or facility under control, maintenance, and management of the State or any of the counties.

(3) Criminal trespass onto public parks and recreational grounds is a petty misdemeanor.


This part is pretty simple and needs little explanation. If you are told to leave a public park or other recreational facility by a law enforcement officer, you pretty much have to leave.

Normally, it is for some violation of any posted notice on a sign, but considering you will never beat a cop in the street any order from a police officer to leave a public park carries the threat of trespass and possibly arrest.

Another similar section is next, this one detailing criminal trespass on state lands:

708-814.7 Criminal trespass onto state lands

(1) Except for lands owned by the office of Hawaiian affairs, and except for improved state lands that are designated safe havens by state departments or agencies, or that are under executive order by the governor to be used as a safe haven and have a department of health component and adequate space, not to include state hospitals, a person commits the offense of criminal trespass onto state lands if:

(a) The person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon any improved state land when:

(i) The land is closed to public use and its closure hours are posted on a sign or signs on the improved state land, and after a request to leave is made by any law enforcement officer the person remains in or upon the land; or

(b) The person enters or remains unlawfully in or upon any state land on or under any highway, and the state land has a sign or signs displayed upon the land that are sufficient to give reasonable notice that read: “Government Property – No Trespassing”; provided that the signs shall contain letters no less than two inches in height and shall be placed at reasonable intervals no less than three signs to a mile along the boundary line of the land and at all roads and trails entering the land in a manner and position as to be clearly noticeable from outside the boundary.

(2) Criminal trespass onto state lands is a petty misdemeanor.


I omitted much from this section and it is still long-winded. Nonetheless, it is fairly simple: If any state lands are open to the public, and you remain on them after the posted hours of closure, that is criminal trespass on the state lands.

Likewise, if those state lands are enclosed, and have posted signage barring entry or stating no trespassing and you decide to go on and enter those State lands, that is trespassing.

Next we have one of the only succinct Hawaii state statutes on trespassing, this one covering simple trespass which is merely a violation, not even a misdemeanor:

708-815 Simple trespass

(1) A person commits the offense of simple trespass if the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises.

(2) Simple trespass is a violation.


Lastly, Hawaii does provide defenses against the charge of trespassing, each of them entailed in 708-816:

708-816 Defense to trespass

It is a defense to prosecution for trespass as a violation of sections 708-814 and 708-815 that the defendant entered upon and passed along or over established and well-defined roadways, pathways, or trails leading to public beaches over government lands, whether or not under lease to private persons, or for the purposes of and in compliance with section 708-804.


In short, the only defense against the charge of trespassing (codified in 708-814 and 708-815) is that a person was traveling on well-defined paths, roads or trails that were leading to publicly accessible beaches and they happened to travel through government land. That’s it, there is no other defense, affirmative or not.

Conclusion

Hawaii is a state with some of the most intricate, lengthy and specific trespassing laws on the books. While onerous and hard to read, you would do well to get familiar with them, since certain types of trespassing in the state of Hawaii entail the charge of felony and all attendant penalties.

Take no chances but you might accidentally trespass in the Aloha State!

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