Minnesota Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

Minnesota: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land
  • Crime Class: Misdemeanor or Gross Misdemeanor
  • Fencing Required?: No.
  • Signage Required?: Yes.
  • Verbal Notice Required?: No, if signage posted.
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Minnesota Trespassing Law Overview

Minnesota is, unfortunately, a state with difficult-to-navigate laws regarding trespassing in all of its forms, with the bulk of them being spread across two large sections and written in such a way but they are chock-full of legalese and intricate phrasing that can make learning what you need to know challenging.

But learn it you must, since Minnesota has some of the most specific laws regarding the posting of signage and notification in the country.

Certain types of property require different types of signage barring trespassing to have the force of law.

Once you boil it down most of the laws make plenty of sense and are not difficult to remember, but you would do well to make sure you are well-informed before making any assumptions coming or going. I will do my best to give you a leg up on Minnesota’s confusing trespassing laws just below.

Relevant Minnesota State Statutes

  • 609.605 Trespass
  • 609.6055 Trespass on Critical Public Service Facility; Utility; Or Pipeline

Minnesota breaks down their state statutes on trespassing into two sections, the first on general trespassing, and the second on trespass upon critical public infrastructure facilities and pipelines.

Both are lengthy and cover pretty much every permutation one would expect in their respective domains. Definitions that are relevant to both are contained in the respective sections.

Due to the length of these statutes I will not be adding my commentary at the end of each since that would be an awful lot for you to take in, keep in mind and digest in one gulp.

Instead I will be breaking each down into smaller chunks with my commentary added after breaks in the text of the section. We will get started with 609.605 below, which covers general trespass laws in Minnesota:

609.605 TRESPASS.

Subdivision 1. Misdemeanor.

(a) The following terms have the meanings given them for purposes of this section.

(1) “Premises” means real property and any appurtenant building or structure.

(2) “Dwelling” means the building or part of a building used by an individual as a place of residence on either a full-time or a part-time basis. A dwelling may be part of a multidwelling or multipurpose building, or a manufactured home as defined in section 168.002, subdivision 16.

(3) “Construction site” means the site of the construction, alteration, painting, or repair of a building or structure.

(4) “Owner or lawful possessor,” as used in paragraph (b), clause (9), means the person on whose behalf a building or dwelling is being constructed, altered, painted, or repaired and the general contractor or subcontractor engaged in that work.

(5) “Posted,” as used:

(i) in paragraph (b), clause (4), means the placement of a sign at least 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches in a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building, or in a conspicuous place within the property on which the building is located. The sign must carry a general notice warning against trespass;

(ii) in paragraph (b), clause (9), means the placement of a sign at least 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches in a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building that is under construction, alteration, or repair, or in a conspicuous place within the area being protected. If the area being protected is less than three acres, one additional sign must be conspicuously placed within that area. If the area being protected is three acres but less than ten acres, two additional signs must be conspicuously placed within that area. For each additional full ten acres of area being protected beyond the first ten acres of area, two additional signs must be conspicuously placed within the area being protected. The sign must carry a general notice warning against trespass; and

(iii) in paragraph (b), clause (10), means the placement of signs that:

(A) carry a general notice warning against trespass;

(B) display letters at least two inches high;

(C) state that Minnesota law prohibits trespassing on the property; and

(D) are posted in a conspicuous place and at intervals of 500 feet or less.

(6) “Business licensee,” as used in paragraph (b), clause (9), includes a representative of a building trades labor or management organization.

(7) “Building” has the meaning given in section 609.581, subdivision 2.


According to the definitions above, “premises” is any real property including a piece of unimproved, vacant land or any structures associated with that land. This is a pretty intricate catch-all definition for any piece of real estate that a person owns.

“Dwelling” is made distinct from that definition only in that it is the building or structure that a person resides in on a full-time or part-time basis.

Also pay attention to (a)(5) and its subparagraphs: This gives you a preview of sorts on the requirements of a given type of “no-trespassing” signage required for any particular class of property.

The requirements differ somewhat and are fairly intricate, so if you own property in Minnesota you had better make sure you’re following the law to the letter when it comes to your required, posted signage or else you might not have a case to level trespassing charges against an intruder.


(b) A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person intentionally:

(1) permits domestic animals or fowls under the actor’s control to go on the land of another within a city;

(2) interferes unlawfully with a monument, sign, or pointer erected or marked to designate a point of a boundary, line or a political subdivision, or of a tract of land;

(3) trespasses on the premises of another and, without claim of right, refuses to depart from the premises on demand of the lawful possessor;

(4) occupies or enters the dwelling or locked or posted building of another, without claim of right or consent of the owner or the consent of one who has the right to give consent, except in an emergency situation;

(5) enters the premises of another with intent to take or injure any fruit, fruit trees, or vegetables growing on the premises, without the permission of the owner or occupant;


Entering or remaining upon, unlawfully, any premises owned by another, or entering and remaining inside any locked building or building that is posted with a no-trespassing notice except in an emergency, or entering upon the premises of anyone else to injure or take any fruit, fruit trees or vegetables growing upon the premises without permission is trespassing and is a misdemeanor in the state of Minnesota.

Also noteworthy is letting any animals under your control enter upon the premises of another or into a city qualifies as a misdemeanor trespassing also. Keep your critters under control in MN!


(6) enters or is found on the premises of a public or private cemetery without authorization during hours the cemetery is posted as closed to the public;

(7) returns to the property of another with the intent to abuse, disturb, or cause distress in or threaten another, after being told to leave the property and not to return, if the actor is without claim of right to the property or consent of one with authority to consent;

(8) returns to the property of another within one year after being told to leave the property and not to return, if the actor is without claim of right to the property or consent of one with authority to consent;


A few specific situations covering trespassing: if you enter upon the premises of any public or private cemetery without authorization after posted, accessible hours you can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Also returning to the property of any other person with the intent to abuse or disturb after being told to leave, or returning to the property of another within one year after being told to leave the property and not return is likewise a misdemeanor.

A few more after the break.


(9) enters the locked or posted construction site of another without the consent of the owner or lawful possessor, unless the person is a business licensee;

(10) enters the locked or posted aggregate mining site of another without the consent of the owner or lawful possessor, unless the person is a business licensee; or

(11) crosses into or enters any public or private area lawfully cordoned off by or at the direction of a peace officer engaged in the performance of official duties.

As used in this clause: (i) an area may be “cordoned off” through the use of tape, barriers, or other means conspicuously placed and identifying the area as being restricted by a peace officer and identifying the responsible authority; and (ii) “peace officer” has the meaning given in section 626.84, subdivision 1. It is an affirmative defense to a charge under this clause that a peace officer permitted entry into the restricted area.


Entering upon the premises of any locked or posted construction site without consent of the owner or the lawful possessor of that construction site is a misdemeanor, as is entering upon a locked or posted mining site.

Also, crossing into or entering any area which has been cordoned off by the police who are engaged in the performance of their official duties is a misdemeanor.

The next subdivision in this section covers trespassing that rates a gross misdemeanor charge.


Subd. 2. Gross misdemeanor. Whoever trespasses upon the grounds of a facility providing emergency shelter services for battered women, as defined under section 611A.31, subdivision 3, or of a facility providing transitional housing for battered women and their children, without claim of right or consent of one who has right to give consent, and refuses to depart from the grounds of the facility on demand of one who has right to give consent, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.


If you do not have any reason and permission to be there do not enter upon the grounds of any facility that provides emergency shelter for battered women or transitional housing for women with children. That will net you a gross misdemeanor charge in Minnesota.


Subd. 4. Trespasses on school property. (a) It is a misdemeanor for a person to enter or be found in a public or nonpublic elementary, middle, or secondary school building unless the person:

(1) is an enrolled student in, a parent or guardian of an enrolled student in, or an employee of the school or school district;

(2) has permission or an invitation from a school official to be in the building;

(3) is attending a school event, class, or meeting to which the person, the public, or a student’s family is invited; or

(4) has reported the person’s presence in the school building in the manner required for visitors to the school.

(b) It is a misdemeanor for a person to be on the roof of a public or nonpublic elementary, middle, or secondary school building unless the person has permission from a school official to be on the roof of the building.

(c) It is a gross misdemeanor for a group of three or more persons to enter or be found in a public or nonpublic elementary, middle, or secondary school building unless one of the persons:

(1) is an enrolled student in, a parent or guardian of an enrolled student in, or an employee of the school or school district;

(2) has permission or an invitation from a school official to be in the building;

(3) is attending a school event, class, or meeting to which the person, the public, or a student’s family is invited; or

(4) has reported the person’s presence in the school building in the manner required for visitors to the school.

(d) It is a misdemeanor for a person to enter or be found on school property within one year after being told by the school principal or the principal’s designee to leave the property and not to return, unless the principal or the principal’s designee has given the person permission to return to the property. As used in this paragraph, “school property” has the meaning given in section 152.01, subdivision 14a, clauses (1) and (3).

(e) A school principal or a school employee designated by the school principal to maintain order on school property, who has reasonable cause to believe that a person is violating this subdivision may detain the person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable period of time pending the arrival of a peace officer. A school principal or designated school employee is not civilly or criminally liable for any action authorized under this paragraph if the person’s action is based on reasonable cause.

(f) A peace officer may arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person violated this subdivision within the preceding four hours. The arrest may be made even though the violation did not occur in the peace officer’s presence.

Subd. 4a. Trespass on a school bus. (a) As used in this subdivision, “school bus” has the meaning given in section 169.011, subdivision 71.

(b) As used in this subdivision, “pupils” means persons in grades prekindergarten through grade 12.

(c) A person who boards a school bus when the bus is on its route or otherwise in operation, or while it has pupils on it, and who refuses to leave the bus on demand of the bus operator, is guilty of a misdemeanor.


Essentially, one should never enter upon school grounds or other property unless you have a reason and permission to be there as a student, as a parent of a student, have made appropriate arrangements to visit the school for some purpose or are attending an event that is open to the public and related to the school.

Likewise, one should never board any school bus while it is active on its route or has students on it. Both are misdemeanor crimes.


Subd. 5. Certain trespass on agricultural land. (a) A person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if the person enters the posted premises of another on which cattle, bison, sheep, goats, swine, horses, poultry, farmed Cervidae, farmed Ratitae, aquaculture stock, or other species of domestic animals for commercial production are kept, without the consent of the owner or lawful occupant of the land.

(b) “Domestic animal,” for purposes of this section, has the meaning given in section 609.599.

(c) “Posted,” as used in paragraph (a), means the placement of a sign at least 11 inches square in a conspicuous place at each roadway entry to the premises. The sign must provide notice of a biosecurity area and wording such as: “Biosecurity measures are in force. No entrance beyond this point without authorization.” The sign may also contain a telephone number or a location for obtaining such authorization.

(d) The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to employees or agents of the state or county when serving in a regulatory capacity and conducting an inspection on posted premises where domestic animals are kept.


Lastly for this section, entering without permission or right upon any land for the farming of domestic animals is trespassing and a misdemeanor charge. Note in paragraph C for this subsection the specific requirements for the signage that must be posted around that farmland.

That is all for the first section on trespassing in the statutes. Now we move on to the second in 609.6055 that covers trespassing upon critical public infrastructure and utility installations.

609.6055 TRESPASS ON CRITICAL PUBLIC SERVICE FACILITY; UTILITY; OR PIPELINE.

Subdivision 1. Definitions. (a) As used in this section, the following terms have the meanings given.

(b) “Critical public service facility” includes buildings and other physical structures, and fenced in or otherwise enclosed property, of railroad yards and stations, bus stations, airports, and other mass transit facilities; oil refineries; and storage areas or facilities for hazardous materials, hazardous substances, or hazardous wastes. The term also includes nonpublic portions of bridges. The term does not include railroad tracks extending beyond a critical public service facility.

(c) “Pipeline” includes an aboveground pipeline, a belowground pipeline housed in an underground structure, and any equipment, facility, or building located in this state that is used to transport natural or synthetic gas, crude petroleum or petroleum fuels or oil or their derivatives, or hazardous liquids, to or within a distribution, refining, manufacturing, or storage facility that is located inside or outside of this state. Pipeline does not include service lines.

(d) “Utility” includes:

(1) any organization defined as a utility in section 216C.06, subdivision 18;

(2) any telecommunications carrier or telephone company regulated under chapter 237; and

(3) any local utility or enterprise formed for the purpose of providing electrical or gas heating and power, telephone, water, sewage, wastewater, or other related utility service, which is owned, controlled, or regulated by a town, a statutory or home rule charter city, a county, a port development authority, the Metropolitan Council, a district heating authority, a regional commission or other regional government unit, or a combination of these governmental units.

The term does not include property located above buried power or telecommunications lines or property located below suspended power or telecommunications lines, unless the property is fenced in or otherwise enclosed.

(e) “Utility line” includes power, telecommunications, and transmissions lines as well as related equipment owned or controlled by a utility.


For the purposes of this section any and all public utilities and critical infrastructure including but not limited to telecommunications, oil and natural gas transportation, distribution and refining facilities and rail yard interchanges or similar structures but conspicuously not the railway lines themselves that extend beyond the named facilities are all critical infrastructure.


Subd. 2. Prohibited conduct; penalty. (a) Whoever enters or is found upon property containing a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline, without claim of right or consent of one who has the right to give consent to be on the property, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor, if:

(1) the person refuses to depart from the property on the demand of one who has the right to give consent;

(2) within the past six months, the person had been told by one who had the right to give consent to leave the property and not to return, unless a person with the right to give consent has given the person permission to return; or

(3) the property is posted.

(b) Whoever enters an underground structure that (1) contains a utility line or pipeline and (2) is not open to the public for pedestrian use, without claim of right or consent of one who has the right to give consent to be in the underground structure, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. The underground structure does not need to be posted for this paragraph to apply.


If any person enters upon the premises of any of the named facilities mentioned in the definitions above and does not leave when asked so long as the property is posted with a no trespassing sign according to the specifics we will look at below, they are guilty of trespassing and will be charged with a gross misdemeanor.


Subd. 3. Posting. For purposes of this section, a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline is posted if there are signs that:

(1) state “no trespassing” or similar terms;

(2) display letters at least two inches high;

(3) state that Minnesota law prohibits trespassing on the property; and

(4) are posted in a conspicuous place and at intervals of 500 feet or less.

Subd. 4. Detention authority; immunity. An employee or other person designated by a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline to ensure the provision of services by the critical public service facility or the safe operation of the equipment or facility of the utility or pipeline who has reasonable cause to believe that a person is violating this section may detain the person as provided in this subdivision. The person detained must be promptly informed of the purpose of the detention and may not be subjected to unnecessary or unreasonable force or interrogation. The employee or other designated person must notify a peace officer promptly of the detention and may only detain the person for a reasonable period of time. No employee or other designated person is criminally or civilly liable for any detention that the employee or person reasonably believed was authorized by and conducted in conformity with this subdivision.

Subd. 5. Arrest authority. A peace officer may arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person violated this section within the preceding four hours. The arrest may be made even though the violation did not occur in the presence of the peace officer.


The specifics for posted signage on critical infrastructure are listed above. With very few exceptions, any of these critical infrastructure installations must have these signs posted on their premises for this section to apply. That’s something good to keep in mind.

Additionally, notice in subdivision 5 the police have special arrest authority if any police officer suspects that any person violated the section within the preceding 4 hours before the contact they may make an arrest without a warrant and without observing the suspected behavior.

Conclusion

Minnesota’s trespassing laws are pretty fair and easy to understand once they have been explained to you accurately, since rifling through their long and intricate statutes is a challenge for anyone without some grounding in legal verbiage.

Of particular note is the state’s emphasis on required and varied signage for different types of properties and the conspicuous lack of explicit mention of vehicles and other conveyances in their trespassing law.

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