Ohio: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor
- Fencing Required?: No.
- Signage Required?: No.
- Verbal Notice Required?: No, but unauthorized person who does not leave when notified is trespassing.
Ohio Trespassing Law Overview
- All trespassing in the State of Ohio results in misdemeanor charges.
- Signage or fencing is not required for land, whether or not unimproved.
- Unauthorized entry on land using an off-road vehicle will result in doubled fines.
Relevant Ohio State Statutes
- Section 2911.10 – Trespass as element of offense
- Section 2911.13 – Breaking and entering
- Section 2911.21 – Criminal trespass
- Section 2911.211 – Aggravated trespass.
- Section 2911.23 – Criminal trespass on place of public amusement
Ohio is a state with fairly limited trespassing laws, and they are notable for their lack of a felony penalty schedule except in the cases of legitimate breaking and entering with intent to commit another crime therein.
Ohio’s chapter on trespass and related offenses does not have a section of definitions, which is typically where we would begin this article, but since it is lacking we will jump right In starting with Section 2911.10 and Section 2911.13.
The latter section covers breaking and entering law in Ohio, and is relevant to our discussion since the former section makes mention that trespass as a definition used throughout this chapter and others it specifically referring it to a violation of the criminal trespass statute we will review later on:
Section 2911.10 – Trespass as element of offense.
As used in sections 2911.11 to 2911.13 of the Revised Code, the element of trespass refers to a violation of section 2911.21 of the Revised Code.
Section 2911.13 – Breaking and entering
(A) No person by force, stealth, or deception, shall trespass in an unoccupied structure, with purpose to commit therein any theft offense, as defined in section 2913.01 of the Revised Code, or any felony.
(B) No person shall trespass on the land or premises of another, with purpose to commit a felony.
(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of breaking and entering, a felony of the fifth degree.
Breaking and entering is distinct from simple criminal trespass because there is a prerequisite that someone is making illegal entry into a structure or on to land with the intention of committing theft or any other felony.
Now, this will more than likely never apply to someone who simply and inadvertently traipses onto someone else’s property, but if there is any circumstantial proof that you might have been planning on committing a felony while there, you could be in serious trouble, and facing a felony charge all its own.
For instance, maybe if you go onto someone else’s property while armed someone can make the case that you are attempting to poach wildlife, and that could be enough… Don’t let it happen to you!
Next in section 2911.21 we look at criminal trespass proper:
Section 2911.21 – Criminal trespass.
(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall do any of the following:
(1) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another;
(2) Knowingly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, the use of which is lawfully restricted to certain persons, purposes, modes, or hours, when the offender knows the offender is in violation of any such restriction or is reckless in that regard;
(3) Recklessly enter or remain on the land or premises of another, as to which notice against unauthorized access or presence is given by actual communication to the offender, or in a manner prescribed by law, or by posting in a manner reasonably calculated to come to the attention of potential intruders, or by fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to restrict access;
(4) Being on the land or premises of another, negligently fail or refuse to leave upon being notified by signage posted in a conspicuous place or otherwise being notified to do so by the owner or occupant, or the agent or servant of either.
(B) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the land or premises involved was owned, controlled, or in custody of a public agency.
(C) It is no defense to a charge under this section that the offender was authorized to enter or remain on the land or premises involved, when such authorization was secured by deception.
(1) Whoever violates this section is guilty of criminal trespass, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.
Not much room for ambiguity here. Trespassing upon any land or premises of another, whether or not it is fenced or has posted signage, or failing to leave any land or premises of another after being informed by the owner, owner’s agent or any posted signage boring trespassing is a misdemeanor crime in the State of Ohio.
As might be expected, it does not matter if the land is currently controlled or in the custody of any public agency or if a person is trespassing under the guise of permission that was obtained by deception.
(2) Notwithstanding section 2929.28 of the Revised Code, if the person, in committing the violation of this section, used a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle, or all-purpose vehicle, the court shall impose a fine of two times the usual amount imposed for the violation.
(3) If an offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two or more violations of this section or a substantially equivalent municipal ordinance, and the offender, in committing each violation, used a snowmobile, off-highway motorcycle, or all-purpose vehicle, the court, in addition to or independent of all other penalties imposed for the violation, may impound the certificate of registration of that snowmobile or off-highway motorcycle or the certificate of registration and license plate of that all-purpose vehicle for not less than sixty days. In such a case, section 4519.47 of the Revised Code applies.
(E) Notwithstanding any provision of the Revised Code, if the offender, in committing the violation of this section, used an all-purpose vehicle, the clerk of the court shall pay the fine imposed pursuant to this section to the state recreational vehicle fund created by section 4519.11 of the Revised Code.
(F) As used in this section:
(1) “All-purpose vehicle,” “off-highway motorcycle,” and
“snowmobile” have the same meanings as in section 4519.01 of the Revised Code.
(2) “Land or premises” includes any land, building, structure, or place belonging to, controlled by, or in custody of another, and any separate enclosure or room, or portion thereof.
The remainder of this section simply details trespassing via any all-purpose vehicle or off-highway motorcycle, meaning ATVs, side-by-sides, dirt bikes and similar off-road sport or utility vehicles, will net you a double fine and repeat offenses can potentially see you lose the vehicle.
The next section covers aggravated trespassing:
Section 2911.211 – Aggravated trespass.
(A) No person shall enter or remain on the land or premises of another with purpose to commit on that land or those premises a misdemeanor, the elements of which involve causing physical harm to another person or causing another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to him.
(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated trespass, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Short and sweet. Anyone who trespasses upon the land or premises of another person with the explicit purpose of committing any misdemeanor which causes physical harm to another person, or would lead a reasonable person that they were about to come to physical harm, is guilty of aggravated trespass, and carries with it a first-degree misdemeanor charge.
So, by way of a for instance, if you were to approach a person in their front yard while shaking your fist angrily at them in a manner that would suggest you were about to strike them, you could be charged with aggravated trespass.
Next is the final relevant statute and also the one that happens to be the longest. This one covers trespassing in stadiums, theaters and other places where entertainment takes place:
Section 2911.23 – Criminal trespass on place of public amusement.
(A) As used in this section, “place of public amusement” means a stadium, theater, or other facility, whether licensed or not, at which a live performance, sporting event, or other activity takes place for entertainment of the public and to which access is made available to the public, regardless of whether admission is charged.
(B) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly enter or remain on any restricted portion of a place of public amusement and, as a result of that conduct, interrupt or cause the delay of the live performance, sporting event, or other activity taking place at the place of public amusement after a printed written notice has been given as provided in division (D)(1) of this section that the general public is restricted from access to that restricted portion of the place of public amusement. A restricted portion of a place of public amusement may include, but is not limited to, a playing field, an athletic surface, or a stage located at the place of public amusement.
(C) An owner or lessee of a place of public amusement, an agent of the owner or lessee, or a performer or participant at a place of public amusement may use reasonable force to restrain and remove a person from a restricted portion of the place of public amusement if the person enters or remains on the restricted portion of the place of public amusement and, as a result of that conduct, interrupts or causes the delay of the live performance, sporting event, or other activity taking place at the place of public amusement. This division does not provide immunity from criminal liability for any use of force beyond reasonable force by an owner or lessee of a place of public amusement, an agent of either the owner or lessee, or a performer or participant at a place of public amusement.
(1) Notice has been given that the general public is restricted from access to a portion of a place of public amusement if a printed written notice of the restricted access has been conspicuously posted or exhibited at the entrance to that portion of the place of public amusement. If a printed written notice is posted or exhibited as described in this division regarding a portion of a place of public amusement, in addition to that posting or exhibition, notice that the general public is restricted from access to that portion of the place of public amusement also may be given, but is not required to be given, by either of the following means:
(a) By notifying the person personally, either orally or in writing, that access to that portion of the place of public amusement is restricted;
(b) By broadcasting over the public address system of the place of public amusement an oral warning that access to that portion of the place of public amusement is restricted.
(2) If notice that the general public is restricted from access to a portion of a place of public amusement is provided by the posting or exhibition of a printed written notice as described in division (D)(1) of this section, the state, in a criminal prosecution for a violation of division (B) of this section, is not required to prove that the defendant received actual notice that the general public is restricted from access to a portion of a place of public amusement.
(1) Whoever violates division (B) of this section is guilty of criminal trespass on a place of public amusement, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(2) In addition to any jail term, fine, or other sentence, penalty, or sanction it imposes upon the offender pursuant to division (E)(1) of this section, a court may require an offender who violates this section to perform not less than thirty, and not more than one hundred twenty hours of supervised community service work.
Any person who enters any restricted portion of a place of public amusement and remains there, and in so doing causes any delay, interruption or other disruption of any demonstration or performance taking place therein is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.
Note that this statute specifically allows any owner or operator of such a place or their authorized agents to use reasonable force in restraining and removing a person who would otherwise violate this section, though it specifically states that they do not have any immunity from a use of excessive force in doing so.
How to Obtain a Trespassing Order in Ohio
If you need a trespassing order against someone in Ohio, start by contacting your local police or sheriff’s department. Explain the situation to them, and follow their instructions. Depending on the circumstances, you might need to obtain evidence or provide proof of notification against the intruder. Once all the appropriate forms are filed, the trespass order can be issued.
Rules for Posting No-Trespassing Signs in Ohio
Ohio has no specific requirements for signage, neither mandates for posting or the layout, size or color of the signs themselves as they aren’t required for protection against trespassers under the law. However, Section 2911.21 does state that signs should be “posted in a manner that is reasonably calculated to come to the attention of a potential intruder.”
You can read that as posted at regular intervals along the perimeter of your property, and making sure that signs are visible at each expected entrance to the property.
Ohio’s laws on trespassing are easy to understand, and generally very limited compared to other states. Every penalty is a misdemeanor so long as no breaking and entering occurs or trespass occurs with any intention to commit another felony.
Trespassing using an off-road vehicle on the property of someone else will result in doubled penalties and successive charges for the same crime may see your vehicle impounded.
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.