Indiana: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Structures, Dwellings, Land, Vehicles
- Crime Class: Felony if breaking and entering into residence, misdemeanor otherwise.
- Fencing Required?: No.
- Signage Required?: Yes, in some cases.
- Verbal Notice Required?: No.
Indiana Trespassing Law Overview
Indiana is a state with fairly straightforward laws and regulations against trespassing, but they make their laws fairly inaccessible due to the way in which they are written and organized.
Being highly repetitive, sometimes overlapping and often confusing, it pays to go over Indiana’s state statutes with a fine-tooth comb if you want the straight story on the trespassing law.
In short, criminal trespass by breaking and entering into a dwelling of another person, whether or not it is occupied, is a level 6 felony, whereas most other forms of trespassing are only misdemeanors.
Once you have gone over the law a few times it is fairly easy to understand, so use this article to help give yourself a head start.
Relevant Indiana State Statutes
- 35-43-2-1.5 Residential Entry
- 35-43-2-2 Criminal Trespass; denial of entry; denial by posting with purple marks; permission to enter; exceptions
There are no separate definitions in this section of Indiana state statutes covering criminal trespass. Instead, the relevant definitions are scattered throughout the text of the law.
The section covering residential entry is very short, not more than a single sentence, whereas the next section covering the bulk of the criminal trespass law is extremely lengthy, confusingly worded, and often features overlapping concepts.
We will cover the first section briefly and completely but throughout the next section I will be interrupting the text of the law for commentary where appropriate, signified by a break, before resuming the text as written in the statute.
So we will get started with 35-43-2-1.5 which covers residential entry, essentially criminal trespass into a home or dwelling absent any other crime or criminal intent:
35-43-2-1.5. Residential entry
Sec. 1.5. A person who knowingly or intentionally breaks and enters the dwelling of another person commits residential entry, a Level 6 felony.
Annnndd… That’s it! Any person who knowingly, intentionally breaks and enters into the dwelling of another person commits residential entry, which is a Level 6 felony in the state of Indiana.
A dwelling is most typically described as any building or structure were in people lodge for sleeping at night, so this will certainly cover residential homes, but also apartments and likely also institutions like hotels, motels and similar.
Note that the law makes no mention of whether or not someone has to occupy the dwelling at the time it is entered, and also it makes specific mention of breaking and entering, not merely entering.
So if some resident inside a dwelling was forgetful enough to leave their door unlocked, upon which some random trespasser took advantage of to let themselves in, technically that would not be residential entry.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that short, sweet and very brief section because we are leaving that far behind as we move into the next one, which is long, complicated, and regrettably covers the bulk of Indiana’s trespassing laws:
35-43-2-2. Criminal trespass; denial of entry; denial by posting with purple marks; permission to enter; exceptions
Sec. 2. (a) As used in this section, “authorized person” means a person authorized by an agricultural operation to act on behalf of the agricultural operation.
(b) A person who:
(1) not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally enters the real property of another person after having been denied entry by the other person or that person’s agent;
(2) not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally refuses to leave the real property of another person after having been asked to leave by the other person or that person’s agent;
(3) accompanies another person in a vehicle, with knowledge that the other person knowingly or intentionally is exerting unauthorized control over the vehicle;
(4) knowingly or intentionally interferes with the possession or use of the property of another person without the person’s consent;
To clarify up to this point in the statutes, if you knowingly or intentionally enter someone else’s property when you don’t have the right to do so, if you stay on someone else’s property after they have asked you to leave, interfere with anyone else’s use or access of their own property or if you accompany a person who is taking the unlawful possession or control of a vehicle, then you’re committing criminal trespass.
But pay attention, since these subsections go on for some time.
(5) not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally enters the:
(A) property of an agricultural operation that is used for the production, processing, propagation, packaging, cultivation, harvesting, care, management, or storage of an animal, plant, or other agricultural product, including any pasturage or land used for timber management, without the consent of the owner of the agricultural operation or an authorized person; or
(B) dwelling of another person without the person’s consent;
(6) knowingly or intentionally:
(A) travels by train without lawful authority or the railroad carrier’s consent; and
(B) rides on the outside of a train or inside a passenger car, locomotive, or freight car, including a boxcar, flatbed, or container without lawful authority or the railroad carrier’s consent;
(7) not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally enters or refuses to leave the property of another person after having been prohibited from entering or asked to leave the property by a law enforcement officer when the property is:
(A) vacant real property (as defined in IC 36-7-36-5) or a vacant structure (as defined in IC 36-7-36-6); or
(B) designated by a municipality or county enforcement authority to be abandoned property or an abandoned structure (as defined in IC 36-7-36-1);
Unlawful and intentional entry of any farm land, agricultural land, animal processing facility, animal pasturage, meat, cereal or other plant processing facility, storage facility for like-kind, Timber growing land or any similar type of land or installation is also criminal trespass.
Also, illegally catching a ride on any train car of any kind without the railroad carriers consent is criminal trespass. You’ll have to put your hobo dreams on hold, friend.
(8) not having a contractual interest in the property, knowingly or intentionally enters the real property of an agricultural operation (as defined in IC 32-30-6-1) without the permission of the owner of the agricultural operation or an authorized person, and knowingly or intentionally engages in conduct that causes property damage to:
(A) the owner of or a person having a contractual interest in the agricultural operation;
(B) the operator of the agricultural operation; or
(C) a person having personal property located on the property of the agricultural operation; or
(9) knowingly or intentionally enters the property of another person after being denied entry by a court order that has been issued to the person or issued to the general public by conspicuous posting on or around the premises in areas where a person can observe the order when the property has been designated by a municipality or county enforcement authority to be a vacant property, an abandoned property, or an abandoned structure (as defined in IC 36-7-36-1);
commits criminal trespass, a Class A misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Level 6 felony if it is committed on a scientific research facility, on a facility belonging to a public utility (as defined in IC 32-24-1-5.9(a)), on school property, or on a school bus or the person has a prior unrelated conviction for an offense under this section concerning the same property. The offense is a Level 6 felony, for purposes of subdivision (8), if the property damage is more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) and less than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). The offense is a Level 5 felony, for purposes of subdivision (8), if the property damage is at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
Illegally entering any agricultural installation with the intent to cause damage is criminal trespass of a more severe kind, as is illegally entering any vacant or abandoned property.
All the above is a class A misdemeanor unless someone criminally trespasses in any scientific research facility, facility that provides or manages public utilities, any school property or school vehicle.
Any of those specially mentioned places will my criminal trespass a Level 6 felony. If the person who committed the criminal trespass against any other property has a prior conviction for some other offense relating to that same property it will also upgrade the offense to a felony.
Is all that making sense so far? I hope so. Let’s keep going.
(c) A person has been denied entry under subsection (b)(1) when the person has been denied entry by means of:
(1) personal communication, oral or written;
(2) posting or exhibiting a notice at the main entrance in a manner that is either prescribed by law or likely to come to the attention of the public;
(3) a hearing authority or court order under IC 32-30-6, IC 32-30-7, IC 32-30-8, IC 36-7-9, or IC 36-7-36; or
(4) posting the property by placing identifying purple marks on trees or posts around the area where entry is denied.
This section and its subsections above states that a written or oral notice denying entry is sufficient for notification of no trespassing, as is any posting of a notice at the main entrance of a structure or other piece of real property.
Note that the passage states specifically that the notice should be “likely to come to the attention of the public.”
The next sections cover markings that serve as “no trespass” warnings without posting of a sign covered by (c)(4) just above.
(d) For the purposes of subsection (c)(4):
(1) each purple mark must be readily visible to any person approaching the property and must be placed:
(A) on a tree:
(i) as a vertical line of at least eight (8) inches in length and with the bottom of the mark at least three (3) feet and not more than five (5) feet from the ground; and
(ii) not more than one hundred (100) feet from the nearest other marked tree; or
(B) on a post:
(i) with the mark covering at least the top two (2) inches of the post, and with the bottom of the mark at least three (3) feet and not more than five (5) feet six (6) inches from the ground; and
(ii) not more than thirty-six (36) feet from the nearest other marked post; and
Any markings that signify “no trespassing” must be purple in color and placed on trees as a vertical line 8 or more inches in length with the bottom of the line between three and five feet from the ground and within 100 feet of the next tree so marked.
Alternately such marks may be placed on posts for the purpose with the purple mark covering at least the top two inches of the post and the bottom of the mark ending no closer than 3 feet from the ground and no higher than 5’6” from the ground.
Such marks made on posts should be no more than 36 feet from the next nearest marked post.
(2) before a purple mark that would be visible from both sides of a fence shared by different property owners or lessees may be applied, all of the owners or lessees of the properties must agree to post the properties with purple marks under subsection (c)(4).
(e) A law enforcement officer may not deny entry to property or ask a person to leave a property under subsection (b)(7) unless there is reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has occurred or is occurring.
(f) A person described in subsection (b)(7) violates subsection (b)(7) unless the person has the written permission of the owner, the owner’s agent, an enforcement authority, or a court to come onto the property for purposes of performing maintenance, repair, or demolition.
(g) A person described in subsection (b)(9) violates subsection (b)(9) unless the court that issued the order denying the person entry grants permission for the person to come onto the property.
A couple of things to note here that are interesting. The first, in (2)(e) is that a law enforcement officer may not deny entry to any property, or ask any person to leave the property under (b)(7) unless they have reasonable suspicion that a crime is in progress or has already occurred.
This is contrary to many other states where law enforcement officers have broad discretion when removing people from the property generally.
The next subsection, (f), states that any person so described in (b)(7) is in violation of (b)(7) unless they have explicit written permission of the owner or one of the owner’s agents, some other enforcement authority or they are on the property to legally carry out maintenance, repair or demolition work.
How to Obtain a Trespassing Order in Indiana
To obtain an order of no trespass in Indiana, notice against trespassing must be given to the offender, either verbally, in writing, or the posting your property against entry with signage.
Once this is done, if possible, you should get evidence that the trespass took place, and then head down to your local police department or district attorney’s office to obtain and file the necessary forms and paperwork. Also note that a notice of no trespass is usually only good for a certain amount of time and must be re-filed every now and then. Ask any officials helping you for details.
Rules for Posting No-Trespassing Signs in Indiana
Indiana state law is somewhat fuzzy concerning any signage requirements, and it’s generally thought that there are no specific requirements concerning size, font, verbiage, color, and so forth so long as the signs are posted at the main entrance to a property and a manner that is conspicuously likely to come to the attention of anyone entering the property.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a sign that’s at least 12 inches square with highly visible colors and lettering. Don’t forget to post the signs around the perimeter of your property if you have a larger parcel that is unenclosed.
Indiana’s laws on trespassing are really not too bad once you get past the laborious, long state statutes codifying them.
Trespassing on a property with a history of crime already on your record might get you a felony as well trespassing on any research facility, facility related to public utilities, school facility or school vehicle.
Other than that, if you mind your own business and take care to look out for no trespassing signs and conspicuous purple markings around the perimeter of undeveloped land, you should not have any trouble.
If you are a property owner, be aware that the police cannot remove someone from a property if they do not suspect that there is a crime in progress or recently committed.
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.