New Mexico: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Land, Vehicles
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor
- Fencing Required?: No.
- Signage Required?: Yes.
- Verbal Notice Required?: No, but does count as standing notice to person who does trespass.
New Mexico Trespassing Law Overview
- Criminal trespassing in New Mexico consists of entering land with posted signs barring trespassers, or entering unposted land that one knows permission to enter is denied or revoked.
- Trespassing upon state lands when one does not have explicit permission is also criminal trespassing.
- All types of trespassing in New Mexico are misdemeanors.
- Entering a vehicle illegally through force or deception is breaking and entering, a felony charge.
- New Mexico has fairly specific requirements for posted ‘no trespassing’ signage.
Relevant New Mexico State Statutes
- 30-14-1. Criminal trespass.
- 30-14-1.1. Types of trespass; injury to realty; civil damages.
- 30-14-3. Penalty.
- 30-14-4. Wrongful use of public property; permit; penalties.
- 30-14-6. No trespassing notice; sign contents; posting; requirement; prescribing a penalty for wrongful posting of public lands.
- 30-14-8. Breaking and entering.
- 30-15-1. Criminal damage to property.
New Mexico statutes on trespassing have no dedicated section for definitions, so instead we will dive right into it with 30-14-1 which covers the bulk of specific trespassing related charges within the state:
30-14-1. Criminal trespass.
A. Criminal trespass consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon posted private property without possessing written permission from the owner or person in control of the land. The provisions of this subsection do not apply if:
(1) the owner or person in control of the land has entered into an agreement with the department of game and fish granting access to the land to the general public for the purpose of taking any game animals, birds or fish by hunting or fishing; or
(2) a person is in possession of a landowner license given to him by the owner or person in control of the land that grants access to that particular private land for the purpose of taking any game animals, birds or fish by hunting or fishing.
B. Criminal trespass also consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon the unposted lands of another knowing that such consent to enter or remain is denied or withdrawn by the owner or occupant thereof. Notice of no consent to enter shall be deemed sufficient notice to the public and evidence to the courts, by the posting of the property at all vehicular access entry ways.
C. Criminal trespass also consists of knowingly entering or remaining upon lands owned, operated or controlled by the state or any of its political subdivisions knowing that consent to enter or remain is denied or withdrawn by the custodian thereof.
D. Any person who enters upon the lands of another without prior permission and injures, damages or destroys any part of the realty or its improvements, including buildings, structures, trees, shrubs or other natural features, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and he shall be liable to the owner, lessee or person in lawful possession for civil damages in an amount equal to double the value of the damage to the property injured or destroyed.
E. Whoever commits criminal trespass is guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally, any person who violates the provisions of Subsection A, B or C of this section, when in connection with hunting, fishing or trapping activity, shall have his hunting or fishing license revoked by the state game commission for a period of not less than three years, pursuant to the provisions of Section 17-3-34 NMSA 1978.
F. Whoever knowingly removes, tampers with or destroys any “no trespass” sign is guilty of a petty misdemeanor; except when the damage to the sign amounts to more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to imprisonment in the county jail for a definite term less than one year or a fine not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or to both such imprisonment and fine in the discretion of the judge.
G. This section, as amended, shall be published in all issues of “Big Game Hunt Proclamation” as published by the department of game and fish.
While a somewhat lengthy section it is simple to understand: if you enter or remain upon any land that has posted notices against trespassing or you do the same upon land but you know you have had your permission specifically revoked or denied, you are criminally trespassing under New Mexico law.
Additionally, trespassing upon any state-controlled land without the permission of the custodian of that land rates the same charge.
Also in this section is the prohibition against the destruction of anything on the land of another while upon their land, including structures and all types of plants and natural features. Also pay particular attention to paragraph (F), which states the destruction, defacing or tampering with of any sign barring trespassing is a misdemeanor crime.
Next is 30-14-1.1 which further specifies trespassing charges and penalties:
30-14-1.1. Types of trespass; injury to realty; civil damages.
A. Any person who enters and remains on the lands of another after having been requested to leave is guilty of a misdemeanor.
B. Any person who enters upon the lands of another when such lands are posted against trespass at every roadway or apparent way of access is guilty of a misdemeanor.
C. Any person who drives a vehicle upon the lands of another except through a roadway or other apparent way of access, when such lands are fenced in any manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
D. In the event any person enters upon the lands of another without prior permission and injures, damages or destroys any part of the realty or its improvements, including buildings, structures, trees, shrubs or other natural features, he shall be liable to the owner, lessee or person in lawful possession for damages in an amount equal to double the amount of the appraised value of the damage of the property injured or destroyed.
In short, all trespassing charges in New Mexico are misdemeanors. If one should destroy any improvements or plants on the property of another after entering they shall be liable for damages totaling double the appraised value of the destroyed items.
Section 30-14-3 further clarifies the misdemeanor charges for trespassing in New Mexico
Any person who violates Section 1 [30-14-2 NMSA 1978] of this act is guilty of a misdemeanor.
The next section entails wrongful use of public property, a lengthy section which covers all kinds of specific wrongdoing regarding public places and premises, including ones where you would otherwise legally, lawfully have a right to be:
30-14-4. Wrongful use of public property; permit; penalties.
A. Wrongful use of public property consists of:
(1) knowingly entering any public property without permission of the lawful custodian or his representative when the public property is not open to the public;
(2) remaining in or occupying any public property after having been requested to leave by the lawful custodian, or his representative, who has determined that the public property is being used or occupied contrary to its intended or customary use or that the public property may be damaged or destroyed by the use; or
(3) depriving the general public of the intended or customary use of public property without a permit.
B. Permits to occupy or use public property may be obtained from the lawful custodian or his representative upon written application which:
(1) describes the public property to be occupied or used; and
(2) states the period of time during which the public property will be occupied or used. The applicant shall pay in advance a reasonable fee or charge for the use of the public property. The fee or charge shall be prescribed by the lawful custodian or his representative.
C. The lawful custodian or his representative may issue the permit if he believes that the use or occupation of the public property will not unreasonably interfere with the intended or customary use of the public property by the general public and that the use will not damage or destroy the public property.
D. Any person occupying or using public property under the authority of a permit shall submit to a search for firearms or other weapons and surrender any firearms or other weapons to any peace officer, who has jurisdiction, upon request.
E. as used in this section, “public property” means any public building, facility, structure or enclosure used for a public purpose or as a place of public gathering, owned or under the control of the state or one of its political subdivisions or a religious, charitable, educational or recreational association.
F. Any person who commits wrongful use of public property is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
G. Any person who commits wrongful use of public property after having been requested to leave by the lawful custodian or his representative or any peace officer, who has jurisdiction, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Entering, or remaining on or in any public property when it is not open to the general public or after being specifically asked to leave, or barred from returning, is the misuse of public property, and a misdemeanor. Additionally anyone who prevents other members of the public from using that property without benefit of a permit for their activity is guilty of the same.
There’s an interesting gotcha in this section in paragraph (D); it states that if you do have a permit for special use of a public property you must submit to a search (specifically for weapons) at the request of any law enforcement officer who has jurisdiction. Keep that in mind if you are planning any special events in the state.
Wrongful use of public property will result in a petty misdemeanor charge, but doing so after being asked to leave by any lawful custodian of that property or any police officer with jurisdiction will escalate the crime to a standard misdemeanor.
Next, the rather detailed requirements New Mexico mandates for posted signage:
30-14-6. No trespassing notice; sign contents; posting; requirement; prescribing a penalty for wrongful posting of public lands.
A. The owner, lessee or person lawfully in possession of real property in New Mexico, except property owned by the state or federal government, desiring to prevent trespass or entry onto the real property shall post notices parallel to and along the exterior boundaries of the property to be posted, at each roadway or other way of access in conspicuous places, and if the property is not fenced, such notices shall be posted every five hundred feet along the exterior boundaries of such land.
B. The notices posted shall prohibit all persons from trespassing or entering upon the property, without permission of the owner, lessee, person in lawful possession or his agent. The notices shall:
(1) be printed legibly in English;
(2) be at least one hundred forty-four square inches in size;
(3) contain the name and address of the person under whose authority the property is posted or the name and address of the person who is authorized to grant permission to enter the property;
(4) be placed at each roadway or apparent way of access onto the property, in addition to the posting of the boundaries; and
(5) where applicable, state any specific prohibition that the posting is directed against, such as “no trespassing,” “no hunting,” “no fishing,” “no digging” or any other specific prohibition.
C. Any person who posts public lands contrary to state or federal law or regualtion [regulation] is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
New Mexico mandates the posting of “no trespassing” signs around the perimeters of property so protected by the law, specifically in conspicuous places around the perimeter if fenced or no more than 500 feet apart if the property is not fenced or otherwise enclosed.
The signs themselves must total at least 144 square inches in size, be printed in English, have on them the name and address of the person who owns or otherwise legally controls the property who may grant permission to enter the property, be placed at each roadway or a parent access way entering a property whether the property is fenced or not, and state any specific prohibition on the side, for instance, no trespassing, no fishing, no four-wheeling, etc.
Now on to breaking and entering, included here because it is New Mexico’s statute covering illicit entry of vehicles:
30-14-8. Breaking and entering.
A. Breaking and entering consists of the unauthorized entry of any vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, dwelling or other structure, movable or immovable, where entry is obtained by fraud or deception, or by the breaking or dismantling of any part of the vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, dwelling or other structure, or by the breaking or dismantling of any device used to secure the vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, dwelling or other structure.
B. Whoever commits breaking and entering is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
Short and unambiguous. Breaking and entering is a felony in New Mexico, so should you for whatever reason be accused of illegally being inside a vehicle you do not have privilege or other legal access to you have stepped up into an entirely new and nasty category of crime. Do take care.
Lastly, 30-15-1 covers criminal damage to property, included with the contents of this chapter since it further expounds on the penalties for damaging the possessions, land or improvements of another person:
30-15-1. Criminal damage to property.
Criminal damage to property consists of intentionally damaging any real or personal property of another without the consent of the owner of the property.
Whoever commits criminal damage to property is guilty of a petty misdemeanor, except that when the damage to the property amounts to more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) he is guilty of a fourth degree felony.
While simple trespass is unlikely to result in any significant damage to someone’s property, it is not inconceivable that one might trample some rare and irreplaceable plants while doing so, and if you should accidentally inflict more than $1,000 worth of damage and have to prove you did not do so on purpose.
You are now on the hook for a felony charge. Otherwise criminal damage to property is a misdemeanor.
How to Obtain a Trespassing Order in New Mexico
If you want to obtain an order of no trespass against someone in New Mexico, reach out to the sheriff’s department or police department where you live and explain the situation. They’ll tell you what requirements must be met in order to file, and of course, you’ll have to fill out some forms correctly and submit them.
Note that New Mexico requires notice against trespass, and this can be done verbally or in writing, or by posting your property correctly with the appropriate signage. New Mexico has fairly stringent requirements for posting, so check out the next section.
Rules for Posting No-Trespassing Signs in New Mexico
New Mexico has several specific but simple requirements for posting a property against trespassers. All such signs must be printed in English, at least 144 square inches and overall size, have the printed name and address of the property owner, legal occupant, or owner’s agent on the signs, be placed at each entrance to the property in addition to on each boundary, and state the prohibited activity where legally required.
New Mexico’s trespassing laws are fairly relaxed, and only cover trespassing on land that is posted or enclosed, so long as someone does not have prior notice that they may not enter or has otherwise had their standing permission and privilege revoked.
Also notable are New Mexico’s laws covering breaking and entering, which specifically states that gaining surreptitious entry by deception is a felony.
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.