Oregon: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Land, Vehicles
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor.
- Fencing Required?: No.
- Signage Required?: Yes, for land. See below.
- Verbal Notice Required?: No.
Oregon Trespassing Law Overview
Oregon trespassing laws are pretty straightforward and easy to understand, with the only interesting facets coming from the specific statutes covering trespassing under special conditions.
One of them is trespassing while carrying a firearm. The other is trespassing at sporting events, which gets its own statute.
Also of note is Oregon’s specific signage requirements for private land which is not for public access; there are separate requirements for enclosing land, posting signage on land and along waterways, and posting signs along land which borders a public easement or throughway.
Additionally, all trespassing in the state of Oregon is classified as a misdemeanor. There is no set of circumstances where you are trespassing alone that will get someone hit with a felony charge.
Relevant Oregon State Statutes
- Section 105.700 Prohibiting public access to private land; notice requirements; damages
- Section 164.005 Definitions
- Section 164.205 Definitions for ORS 164.205 to 164.270
- Section 164.243 Criminal trespass in the second degree by a guest
- Section 164.245 Criminal trespass in the second degree
- Section 164.255 Criminal trespass in the first degree
- Section 164.265 Criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm
- Section 164.272 Unlawful entry into a motor vehicle
- Section 164.276 Criminal trespass at a sports event
- Section 164.278 Authority of sports official to expel persons from sports event
As with all such legal proceedings the only place to begin is with the definitions. If you don’t read the definitions you don’t know what the words in the statutes actually mean; even common words that you would never, ever think to look up into fine otherwise.
Small twists and subtle nuances contained within legal definitions can often change the entire meaning of whole statutes. Always, always read the definitions before the rest of us section.
Oregon statutes concerning trespassing have two sets of definitions the first in 164.243:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.005 – Definitions.
(4) “Owner of property taken, obtained or withheld” or “owner” means any person who has a right to possession thereof superior to that of the taker, obtainer or withholder.
(5) “Property” means any article, substance or thing of value, including, but not limited to, money, tangible and intangible personal property, real property, choses-in-action, evidence of debt or of contract. [1971 c.743 §121]
Note: Legislative Counsel has substituted “chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971,” for the words “this Act” in sections 121 and 131, chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, compiled as 164.005 and 164.115. Specific ORS references have not been substituted, pursuant to 173.160. These sections may be determined by referring to the 1971 Comparative Section Table located in Volume 20 of ORS.
Here we find first in the statutes the definition of real property, which is any parcel of land or structure thereon that is typically fixed and immobile.
“Owner” is again codified to mean any person has the right to possession there of that is superior to that of the taker, obtainer or with holder of the property. That is an interesting piece of nuance it is rarely seen in other states statutes.
Our next set of definitions is in 164.205:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.205 – Definitions for ORS 164.205 to 164.270.
As used in ORS 164.205 to 164.270, except as the context requires otherwise:
(1) “Building,” in addition to its ordinary meaning, includes any booth, vehicle, boat, aircraft or other structure adapted for overnight accommodation of persons or for carrying on business therein. Where a building consists of separate units, including, but not limited to, separate apartments, offices or rented rooms, each unit is, in addition to being a part of such building, a separate building.
(2) “Dwelling” means a building which regularly or intermittently is occupied by a person lodging therein at night, whether or not a person is actually present.
(3) “Enter or remain unlawfully” means:
(a) To enter or remain in or upon premises when the premises, at the time of such entry or remaining, are not open to the public and when the entrant is not otherwise licensed or privileged to do so;
(b) To fail to leave premises that are open to the public after being lawfully directed to do so by the person in charge;
(c) To enter premises that are open to the public after being lawfully directed not to enter the premises; or
(d) To enter or remain in a motor vehicle when the entrant is not authorized to do so.
(4) “Open to the public” means premises which by their physical nature, function, custom, usage, notice or lack thereof or other circumstances at the time would cause a reasonable person to believe that no permission to enter or remain is required.
(5) “Person in charge” means a person, a representative or employee of the person who has lawful control of premises by ownership, tenancy, official position or other legal relationship. “Person in charge” includes, but is not limited to the person, or holder of a position, designated as the person or position-holder in charge by the Governor, board, commission or governing body of any political subdivision of this state.
(6) “Premises” includes any building and any real property, whether privately or publicly owned. [1971 c.743 §135; 1983 c.740 §33; 1999 c.1040 §10; 2003 c.444 §1; 2015 c.10 §1]
The key takeaways from this section of definitions include the legal definition of “building” also entailing all kinds of vehicles to include aircraft and the statutory definition of “enter or remain unlawfully”, also meaning to re-enter or enter a building where a citizen would otherwise have a legal, lawful right to be if they have been asked to leave or stay away by any person in charge of that respective premises.
Now on to the actual nuts and bolts of the trespassing laws in Oregon. We will begin with 105.700 which covers the specific signage and notification requirements in the State of Oregon:
Section 105.700 – Prohibiting public access to private land; notice requirements; damages.
(1) In addition to and not in lieu of any other damages that may be claimed, a plaintiff who is a landowner shall receive liquidated damages in an amount not to exceed $1,000 in any action in which the plaintiff establishes that:
(a) The plaintiff closed the land of the plaintiff as provided in subsection (2) of this section; and(b) The defendant entered and remained upon the land of the plaintiff without the permission of the plaintiff.
(2) A landowner or an agent of the landowner may close the privately owned land of the landowner by posting notice as follows:
(a) For land through which the public has no right of way, the landowner or agent must place a notice at each outer gate and normal point of access to the land, including both sides of a body of water that crosses the land wherever the body of water intersects an outer boundary line. The notice must be placed on a post, structure or natural object in the form of a sign or a blaze of paint. If a blaze of paint is used, it must consist of at least 50 square inches of fluorescent orange paint, except that when metal fence posts are used, approximately the top six inches of the fence post must be painted. If a sign is used, the sign:
(A) Must be no smaller than eight inches in height and 11 inches in width;
(B) Must contain the words “Closed to Entry” or words to that effect in letters no less than one inch in height; and
(C) Must display the name, business address and phone number, if any, of the landowner or agent of the landowner.
(b) For land through which or along which the public has an unfenced right of way by means of a public road, the landowner or agent must place:
(A) A conspicuous sign no closer than 30 feet from the center line of the roadway where it enters the land, containing words substantially similar to “PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING OFF ROAD NEXT _ MILES”; or
(B) A sign or blaze of paint, as described in paragraph (a) of this subsection, no closer than 30 feet from the center line of the roadway at regular intervals of not less than one-fourth mile along the roadway where it borders the land, except that a blaze of paint may not be placed on posts where the public road enters the land.
As you can see above, the “closure” of private land to public access requires signage or markings according to the type of land and the access that borders it. Theoretically. if private land has no such signs or markings or they are not within specification then the trespass laws do not apply to said piece of land.
Now we move into 164.243 which covers one of Oregon’s several specific instances of trespassing. In this case it is a criminal trespass by a guest, with a guest being a person who is otherwise legally lodged at a hotel, motel or other commercial dwelling:
Section 164.243 – Criminal trespass in the second degree by a guest.
A guest commits the crime of criminal trespass in the second degree if that guest intentionally remains unlawfully in a transient lodging after the departure date of the guest’s reservation without the approval of the hotelkeeper.
“Guest” means a person who is registered at a hotel and is assigned to transient lodging, and includes any individual accompanying the person. [1979 c.856 §2]
So simply stated if you overstay your hotel booking without paying for an extension, you are trespassing.
That is the first codification of criminal trespassing in the second degree. The other one is in the very next section, 164.245:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.245 – Criminal trespass in the second degree.
(1) A person commits the crime of criminal trespass in the second degree if the person enters or remains unlawfully in a motor vehicle or in or upon premises.
(2) Criminal trespass in the second degree is a Class C misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §139; 1999 c.1040 §9]
Entering or staying in/on a motor vehicle or any other premises unlawfully will get you a Class C misdemeanor charge for criminal trespass in the second degree. Note the law specifically says premises here, not a dwelling.
A dwelling is a place where someone is expected to sleep at night, for instance their home, hotel room etc. A Class C misdemeanor in Oregon will get you a painful fine or even a short stint in jail along with some probation.
Criminal Trespass in the first degree is significantly worse than trespass in the second degree, as explained in the very next section 164.255:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.255 – Criminal trespass in the first degree.
(1) A person commits the crime of criminal trespass in the first degree if the person:
(a) Enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling;
(b) Having been denied future entry to a building pursuant to a merchant’s notice of trespass, reenters the building during hours when the building is open to the public with the intent to commit theft therein;
(c) Enters or remains unlawfully upon railroad yards, tracks, bridges or rights of way; or
(d) Enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises that have been determined to be not fit for use under ORS 453.855 to 453.912.
(2) Subsection (1)(d) of this section does not apply to the owner of record of the premises if:
(a) The owner notifies the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the premises that the owner intends to enter the premises;
(b) The owner enters or remains on the premises for the purpose of inspecting or decontaminating the premises or lawfully removing items from the premises; and
(c) The owner has not been arrested for, charged with or convicted of a criminal offense that contributed to the determination that the premises are not fit for use.
(3) Criminal trespass in the first degree is a Class A misdemeanor. [1971 c.743 §140; 1993 c.680 §23; 1999 c.837 §1; 2001 c.386 §1; 2003 c.527 §1]
164.255 contains several interesting tidbits…
The initial subsection is almost identical to the previous statute, only it specifies the unlawful entering or remaining in someone’s dwelling, not merely on premises. Refer back to the definition section if you need explanation.
Also specifically mentioned is unlawfully entering railroad yards, railroad tracks and bridges.
Perhaps most interesting is subsection 1 paragraph (b), which specifies that a person who is told to leave by a business owner or authorized agent who then returns during normal business hours with the intent to steal from the store or business is guilty of trespassing.
Lastly, criminal trespass in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
One of Oregon’s special trespassing laws is found in 164.265, and spells out additional penalties for those who trespass with a firearm:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.265 – Criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm.
(1) A person commits the crime of criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm who, while in possession of a firearm, enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises.
(2) Criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor. [1979 c.603 §2]
Criminally trespassing while carrying a firearm is an additional crime, another Class A misdemeanor called “criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm.” It’s an innovative name, I know.
The next statute that defines trespassing under special circumstances is in 164.272. this statute covers unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, which Oregon interestingly defines as even a part of someone’s body unlawfully entering the vehicle.
If you were to reach into someone’s window, that’s trespassing. Full language below:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.272 – Unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
(1) A person commits the crime of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle if the person enters a motor vehicle, or any part of a motor vehicle, with the intent to commit a crime.
(2) Unlawful entry into a motor vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor.
(3) As used in this section, “enters” includes, but is not limited to, inserting:
(a) Any part of the body; or
(b) Any object connected with the body. [1995 c.782 §1]
Note: 164.272 was enacted into law by the Legislative Assembly but was not added to or made a part of ORS chapter 164 or any series therein by legislative action. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.
So any part of you or anything you are holding unlawfully enters a vehicle you are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Oregon.
And, at long last, we come to the final two special circumstances regarding trespassing. Two statutes codify trespassing at sporting events, and the right of sporting officials to remove anybody from a sporting event.
If you disobey, then you are trespassing. Sections 164. 276 and164.278 have all the details:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.276 – Authority of sports official to expel persons from sports event.
A sports official may order a coach, team player or spectator to leave the premises at which a sports event is taking place and at which the sports official is officiating if the coach, team player or spectator is engaging in inappropriate behavior. [2003 c.629 §2]
Please note that inappropriate behavior is not defined under Oregon state statutes. So make sure you don’t talk trash to hard if your team is dunking on the away team.
The next section actually defines criminal trespass at a sports event, a separate offense from all the other statutes codifying criminal trespass:
Chapter 164 – Offenses Against Property Section 164.278 – Criminal trespass at a sports event.
(1) A person commits the crime of criminal trespass at a sports event if the person:
(a) Is a coach, team player or spectator at a sports event;
(b) Engages in inappropriate behavior;
(c) Has been ordered by a sports official to leave the premises at which the sports event is taking place; and
(d) Fails to leave the premises or returns to the premises during the period of time when reentry has been prohibited.
(2) Criminal trespass at a sports event is a Class C misdemeanor. [2003 c.629 §3]
In short, if officials at the sporting event tell you to leave, you’ve got to leave or you’re trespassing. If you should return before your prescribed time-out period is up, you are trespassing.
Oregon trespassing laws are pretty straightforward, but are notable for having several additional statutes that cover special situations, specifically those concerning vehicles, carry of firearms, guests at hotels or motels, and players, coaches or spectators at sporting events.
Additionally there no legal proscriptions for notification of trespassing by closure of private land, either by marks or by sign. While much of it is common sense, as always it pays to know the letter of the law if you’re going to be traveling or moving around on foot in Oregon.