Oklahoma Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

Oklahoma: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land
  • Crime Class: Violation, Misdemeanor, Felony.
  • Fencing Required?: No.
  • Signage Required?: Yes, for certain statutes.
  • Verbal Notice Required?: Yes, for certain statutes.
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Oklahoma Trespassing Law Overview

  • Oklahoma has many, massive statutes covering trespassing; comprehensive understanding is a must.
  • Trespassing is a violation or misdemeanor in Oklahoma with few exceptions.
  • Oklahoma has substantial laws covering trespassing on railways and vital infrastructure.
  • Trespassing with intent to cause damage to vital infrastructure is a felony.
  • Oklahoma has a comprehensive “Peeping Tom” law.

Relevant Oklahoma State Statutes

  • 21-102. Real property.
  • 21-104. Property defined.
  • 21-1171. Peeping Tom – Use of photographic, electronic or video equipment – Offenses and punishment – Definition.
  • 21-1365. Trespassing on railway trains a misdemeanor.
  • 21-1438. Entering building or other structure with intent to commit felony, larceny or malicious mischief – Breaking and entering dwelling without permission.
  • 21-1752.1. Trespass upon or interference with railroad property.
  • 21-1792. Critical infrastructure facility – Trespass – Damage – Penalties.
  • 21-1835. Trespass on posted property after being forbidden or without permission – Penalties – Exceptions.
  • 21-1835.1. Entry or presence upon premises of place of business of persons convicted of certain crimes.
  • 21-1835.2. Trespass upon private land primarily devoted to farming, ranching or forestry – Exceptions – Affirmative defense.
  • 21-1835.5. Trespass – Prima facie evidence.
  • 21-1835.4. Definitions.
  • 21-1835.6. Prohibited acts.
  • 21-1835.7. Penalties.
  • 21-1835.9. Aggravated violations.

Oklahoma’s laws on trespassing are many, intricate and lengthy. A thorough understanding will require many readings, and it is always best to consult an attorney who is fluent on Oklahoma property and trespassing laws as part of your preparations.

This article consists of an abridged overview of the state statutes in Oklahoma and neither the author, this website, or the website’s owners or operators make any guarantees or warranties as to the completeness of the info presented.

Okay, this is a big one: Oklahoma has an incredibly lengthy and detailed list of state statutes covering trespassing alone.

While I will be including all the relevant statutes pertaining to trespassing, I will only be including the most common and the most relevant parts of the individual statutes in this article. This will serve only as a broad overview of Oklahoma State trespassing law.

We begin as always with a couple of definitions, incongruously found separately in their own sections, 21-102 and 21-104:

21-102. Real property.

The term “real property” includes every estate, interest and right in lands, tenements and hereditaments.

21-104. Property defined.

The term “property” includes both real and personal property.

With just these two definitions Oklahoma has encompassed every type of property that might conceivably pertain to trespass; bare unimproved land, improved land, buildings and dwellings. These definitions will apply for the rest of the chapter and all its huge immenseness.

The next section covers Oklahoma’s intricate Peeping Tom law:

21-1171. Peeping Tom – Use of photographic, electronic or video equipment – Offenses and punishment – Definition.

A. Every person who hides, waits or otherwise loiters in the vicinity of any private dwelling house, apartment building, any other place of residence, or in the vicinity of any locker room, dressing room, restroom or any other place where a person has a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the unlawful and willful intent to watch, gaze, or look upon any person in a clandestine manner, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor.

The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not more than one (1) year, or by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

B. Every person who uses photographic, electronic or video equipment in a clandestine manner for any illegal, illegitimate, prurient, lewd or lascivious purpose with the unlawful and willful intent to view, watch, gaze or look upon any person without the knowledge and consent of such person when the person viewed is in a place where there is a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, or who publishes or distributes any image obtained from such act, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony.

The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term of not more than five (5) years, or by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

C. Every person who uses photographic, electronic or video equipment in a clandestine manner for any illegal, illegitimate, prurient, lewd or lascivious purpose with the unlawful and willful intent to view, watch, gaze or look upon any person and capture an image of a private area of a person without the knowledge and consent of such person and knowingly does so under circumstances in which a reasonable person would believe that the private area of the person would not be visible to the public, regardless of whether the person is in a public or private place shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor.

The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not more than one (1) year, or by a fine not exceeding Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

D. As used in this section, the phrase “private area of the person” means the naked or undergarment-clad genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or any portion of the areola of the female breast of that individual.

Any illicit action that is taken to surreptitiously view a person, in any circumstance when they would reasonably expect privacy, be it public or private in location, is illegal, and punishable as a misdemeanor. The use of any technological equipment for such or, even worse, for the capturing of images or video of a person’s genitals is a serious felony.

Next, trespassing on a train, section 21-1365:

21-1365. Trespassing on railway trains a misdemeanor.

Any person, other than a railway employee in the discharge of his duty, who, without authority from the conductor of the train, rides, or attempts to ride, on top of any car, coach, engine or tender, on any railroad in this state, or on the drawheads between the cars, or under cars or trussrods or trucks, or in any freight car, or on the platform of any baggage car, express car, or mail car, or any train in this state, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Simple. Hiding or stowing away on any part of any train without authority is a misdemeanor. Don’t be a hobo!

Now, on to the real, bulky meat of the matter. Starting with section 21-1438 which covers breaking and entering:

21-1438. Entering building or other structure with intent to commit felony, larceny or malicious mischief – Breaking and entering dwelling without permission.

A. Every person who, under circumstances not amounting to any burglary, enters any building or part of any building, booth, tent, warehouse, railroad car, vessel, or other structure or erection with intent to commit any felony, larceny, or malicious mischief, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

B. Every person who, without the intention to commit any crime therein, shall willfully and intentionally break and enter into any building, trailer, vessel or other premises used as a dwelling without the permission of the owner or occupant thereof, except in the cases and manner allowed by law, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This passage is notable for its specific mention of “under circumstances not amounting to any burglary” and “without intention to commit a crime.”

Assuming that you can prove you are not committing burglary, you also have to prove and in this case you were not there to commit any other crime of any kind, else you are guilty of a misdemeanor.

Also fairly interesting, considering the typical severity of this charge, is that doing so even in a dwelling is only a misdemeanor.

Moving swiftly along to 21-1752.1, trespass upon railroad property. Why it was not placed earlier in the chapter to reside next to the other, relevant laws I have no idea:

21-1752.1. Trespass upon or interference with railroad property.

A. Any person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if the person:

1. Without consent of the owner or the owner’s agent, enters or remains on railroad property, knowing that it is railroad property;

2. Throws an object at a train, or rail-mounted work equipment; or

3. Maliciously or wantonly causes in any manner the derailment of a train, railroad car or rail-mounted work equipment.

B. Any person shall be guilty of a felony if the person commits an offense specified in subsection A of this section which results in a demonstrable monetary loss, damage or destruction of railroad property when said loss is valued at more than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00) or results in bodily injury to a person. Any person shall be guilty of a felony if the person discharges a firearm or weapon at a train, or rail-mounted work equipment.

C. Any person violating the misdemeanor provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year or by a fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment.

Any person violating the felony provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding four (4) years. If personal injury results, such person shall be punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary.

Trespassing on railroad property without causing any damage will net you a misdemeanor charge.

Doing so for any reason that causes bodily harm or derailment of the train is a significant felony that can earn you up to a $1,500 fine and a year in jail. Don’t throw anything at a train, shoot at it or mess with the tracks in any way.

Next is another huge section covering trespass and damage to critical infrastructure facilities:

21-1792. Critical infrastructure facility – Trespass – Damage – Penalties.

A. Any person who shall willfully trespass or enter property containing a critical infrastructure facility without permission by the owner of the property or lawful occupant thereof shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

If it is determined the intent of the trespasser is to willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, or impede or inhibit operations of the facility, the person shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), or by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term of one (1) year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

B. Any person who shall willfully damage, destroy, vandalize, deface or tamper with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00), or by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term of not more than ten (10) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(…)

D. As used in this section, “critical infrastructure facility” means:

1. One of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property that are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders and indicate that entry is forbidden without site authorization:

a.a petroleum or alumina refinery,

b.an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center or electric power lines and associated equipment infrastructure,

c.a chemical, polymer or rubber manufacturing facility,

d.a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant or pump station,

e.a natural gas compressor station,

f.a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility,

g.a telecommunications central switching office,

h.wireless telecommunications infrastructure, including cell towers, telephone poles and lines, including fiber optic lines,

i.a port, railroad switching yard, railroad tracks, trucking terminal or other freight transportation facility,

j.a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment or fractionation of natural gas or natural gas liquids,

k.a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station,

l.a steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel,

m.a facility identified and regulated by the United States Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program,

n.a dam that is regulated by the state or federal government,

o.a natural gas distribution utility facility including, but not limited to, pipeline interconnections, a city gate or town border station, metering station, aboveground piping, a regulator station and a natural gas storage facility, or

p.a crude oil or refined products storage and distribution facility including, but not limited to, valve sites, pipeline interconnections, pump station, metering station, below or aboveground pipeline or piping and truck loading or offloading facility; or

2. Any aboveground portion of an oil, gas, hazardous liquid or chemical pipeline, tank, railroad facility or other storage facility that is enclosed by a fence, other physical barrier or is clearly marked with signs prohibiting trespassing, that are obviously designed to exclude intruders.

Trespassing in any of the above listed facilities (in D.1. a. through p.) is a serious misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine. Doing so while being provably there to inflict damage or destruction to any equipment at those sites will upgrade the charge to a felony and a $10,000 fine.

If one were to actually succeed at causing damage or destruction, you will face a whopping $100,000 fine, and up to a decade in prison. Serious stuff!

On to a lesser but no less lengthy statute, trespass on posted property, 21-1835:

21-1835. Trespass on posted property after being forbidden or without permission – Penalties – Exceptions.

A. Whoever shall willfully or maliciously enter the garden, yard, pasture or field of another after being expressly forbidden to do so or without permission by the owner or lawful occupant thereof when such property is posted shall be deemed guilty of trespass and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not to exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00); provided, (…)

B. No provisions of this act shall conflict with Section 5-202 or 6-304 of Title 29 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

(…)

If you do not have explicit permission to be on property that is posted with a no trespassing notice and enter or remain on the property upon conviction you can be charged up to $250.

21-1835.1. Entry or presence upon premises of place of business of persons convicted of certain crimes.

A. Every person, partnership, corporation or other legal entity engaged in any public business, trade, or profession of any kind wherein merchandise, goods or services are offered for sale may forbid the entry or presence of any person upon the premises of the place of business, if the person has been convicted of a crime involving entry onto or criminal acts occurring upon any real property owned, leased, or under the control of such person, partnership, corporation or other legal entity.

Such crimes shall include, but are not limited to, shoplifting, vandalism, and disturbing the peace while upon the premises of any place of business of the person, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity.

(…)

C. No person shall willfully enter or remain upon the premises after being expressly forbidden to do so in the manner provided for in this section. Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section, upon conviction, shall be guilty of trespass and shall be punished by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or by confinement in the county jail for a term of not more than thirty (30) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(…)

If you have been barred from a business or other commercial enterprise for crimes related to that business, premises or other holdings of the owner of that business or enterprise and have been notified by the owner or owner’s authorized agent violating that order is trespassing and will net you a $250 fine and up to 30 days in the county jail.

Next, trespassing on private land used for farming or ranching:

21-1835.2. Trespass upon private land primarily devoted to farming, ranching or forestry – Exceptions – Affirmative defense.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 1835 of this title, the following provisions apply to private land that is primarily devoted to farming, ranching, or forestry purposes:

1. Except as provided in this section, whoever willfully enters private land of another that is primarily devoted to farming, ranching, or forestry purposes without permission by the surface owner, surface lessee, hunting lessee, or lawful occupant thereof shall be deemed guilty of trespass and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in any sum not less than Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($750.00) nor more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00), and in addition, the court shall order restitution for actual damages incurred.

Persons convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine in any sum not less than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00) nor more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00), or by confinement in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and in addition, the court shall order restitution for actual damages incurred;

(…)

3. The following persons may enter such land of another unless forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner or lawful occupier thereof: registered land surveyors and registered professional engineers for the purpose of land surveying in the performance of their professional services, persons making a delivery, selling a product or service, conducting a survey or poll, working on behalf of a candidate for political office, or who otherwise have a legitimate reason for entering and who, immediately upon entering, seek to conduct such business; and

4. Anyone who willfully or maliciously enters any such land of another and therein commits or attempts to commit waste, theft, or damage shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by confinement in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and in addition, the court shall order restitution for actual damages incurred.

Persons convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00), or by confinement in the county jail for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and in addition, the court shall order restitution for actual damages.

(…)

C. 1. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under paragraph 1 of subsection A of this section that the accused had express or implied permission or legal authority to be on the property.

2. If an accused reasonably believed he or she was upon property for which they had permission to be upon, it shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under paragraph 1 of subsection A of this section that the accused had with him or her, on his or her person, written permission from the surface owner, surface lessee, hunting lessee, or lawful occupant to be upon such person’s land while the accused was upon any adjoining property. This defense shall not be available to the accused if:

(…)

Trespass upon any of these lands under any circumstances, for any reason, will net you a significant fine of $750 and potentially up to half a year in county jail assuming you are a repeat offender.

Doing so with the intent of committing some other crime ramps up the severity significantly: up to $2,500 and another 6 months in jail.

It is, however, an affirmative defense that one had written permission from the owner to be on the land in question at the time the trespass occurred. Remember that affirmative defenses must be used in court; you won’t be cleared at the scene…

Next section, evidence, prima facie evidence:

21-1835.5. Trespass – Prima facie evidence.

It shall be prima facie evidence that a person is on land for a recreational use if the person is on the land of another without other explanation.

1. The absence of posting shall not by itself be sufficient to imply consent.

2. Consent shall not be implied if the land is posted.

3. It shall be the obligation of the recreational user to establish implied consent as an affirmative defense.

The section sounds tricky but it really isn’t. If you are on someone else’s land with no other apparent explanation, it will be assumed you were on the land for recreational use. Note that this section specifies the absence of any posted notice against trespassing or any other activity does not in itself imply consent on behalf of the land’s owner.

Additionally, consent will never be implied if the land is posted with a written notice. As always, it is completely up to you to establish undeniably proof of consent as an affirmative defense against the charge of trespassing.

A few definitions in the next section that relate to the previous one:

21-1835.4. Definitions.

As used in the Oklahoma Private Lands and Public Recreation Act:

1. “Land” means all private land that is primarily devoted to farming, ranching, or forestry purposes including real property, land and water, and all structures, fixtures, equipment, and machinery thereon;

2. “Owner” means any individual, legal entity, or governmental agency that has any ownership or security interest, or lease or right of possession in land;

3. “Recreational use” means any activity undertaken for exercise, education, relaxation, or pleasure on land owned by another; and

4. “Recreational trespass” means remaining on land for a recreational use after being asked to leave by the owner, or the entry on land for a recreational use without the express or implied consent of the owner.

Self explanatory. Next is another self-explanatory list of “prohibited acts” you cannot do on the land or premises of another:

21-1835.6. Prohibited acts.

The following acts are prohibited:

1. Recreational trespass;

2. Any activity in which a vehicle is used to engage in mud bogging. Mud bogging includes, without limitation, traveling across terrain:

a.that has not been improved or designed to facilitate conventional vehicles, or

b.that is chosen for such travel because of its wet or muddy characteristics;

3. The destruction or removal of any property of the owner or vandalism of any sort while engaged in recreational use of the land of another;

4. Littering while engaged in recreational use of the land of another; and

5 Failure to leave any gates, doors, fences, road blocks and obstacles or signs in the condition in which they were found, while engaged in the recreational use of the land of another.

And at long, long last, the penalty schedules for trespass violations and aggravated violations:

21-1835.7. Penalties.

Any person convicted of a trespass violation pursuant to Section 4 of this act shall be punished by a fine of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or imprisonment for not more than ten (10) days; for a second conviction within one (1) year after the first conviction, a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) days; and upon a third or subsequent conviction within one (1) year after the first conviction, a fine of Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A violation of each paragraph of Section 4 of this act shall not be a separate offense.

21-1835.9. Aggravated violations.

A. A violation of paragraph 1 of Section 4 of this act shall be aggravated where in the course of the violation there occurs the driving of any automobile, motorcycle, trail bicycle, or any other motorized vehicle in a way as to endanger others or to cause damage to the land.

B. The penalty for a violation of this section shall consist of a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or imprisonment for not more than ten (10) days; for a second conviction within one (1) year after the first conviction, by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) days; and upon a third or subsequent conviction within one (1) year after the first conviction, by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. A person may not be charged for the same offense under this section and paragraph 1 of Section 4 of this act.

Conclusion

Oklahoma is host to some of the most extensive, bloated and scattered laws on trespassing in the entirety of the United States.

Complete and comprehensive understanding will only be achieved after significant study and cross-checking, and the above overview is a good start.

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