Texas Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

Texas: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land, Vehicles
  • Crime Class: Misdemeanor
  • Fencing Required?: No, but qualifies as notice against entry.
  • Signage Required?: No, but qualifies as notice against entry.
  • Verbal Notice Required?: No, but qualifies as notice against entry. See below for details.
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Texas Trespassing Law Overview

  • Texas trespassing laws are lengthy, but easily understood for the most part.
  • Notice against entry is required for most forms of unauthorized entry to qualify as trespass.
  • Notice against entry can be signs, markings, fencing/barriers, or verbal/written notice.
  • Texas has specific statutes codifying trespass while carrying a legal firearm.
  • Most forms of illegal entry in Texas are misdemeanor crimes.

Relevant Texas State Statutes

  • 30.01. Definitions
  • 30.05. Criminal Trespass
  • 30.06. Trespass by License Holder With a Concealed Handgun
  • 30.07. Trespass by License Holder With an Openly Carried Handgun

It is always a smart bet to begin with the definitions whenever you are reviewing any legal statutes. A seemingly innocuous change or imparted meaning to a common word could drastically impact the meaning and purview of a given law, so we shouldn’t take these definitions for granted, and Texas is no different.

Texas has a small section of definitions covering their trespassing laws, but this is hardly all of the relevant definitions for the chapter. You’ll find the remainder scattered throughout where relevant.

Also note that as I mentioned above the legal statutes covering trespassing in Texas are, as a rule, extremely lengthy and so in the interest of clarity I will be inserting commentary where appropriate between breaks as you read through the statutes themselves. Now, let’s get started with the definitions:

Section 30.01. Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) “Habitation” means a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons, and includes:

(A) each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and

(B) each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.

(2) “Building” means any enclosed structure intended for use or occupation as a habitation or for some purpose of trade, manufacture, ornament, or use.

(3) “Vehicle” includes any device in, on, or by which any person or property is or may be propelled, moved, or drawn in the normal course of commerce or transportation, except such devices as are classified as “habitation.”

(…)

This is the shortest of the Texas statutes we will be covering today. Reading the definitions above, especially (1) (A) and (B), you can see that the definitions for “habitation” and “building” are highly inclusive, and include all sections of a building and any related outbuildings as appropriate.

The chief difference is that a habitation is a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight lodging of people where a building can be any other structure that is intended for occupation or any commercial or utilitarian use.

Now, on to the heart of the statutes with section 30.05:

Section 30.05. Criminal Trespass

(a) A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:

(1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or

(2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.

Starting out, it is clear that entering or remaining upon any kind of property of another person without effective consent, and with notice that entry is forbidden or in disregard of any notice to depart, is a violation. (a) qualifies the rest of this section, which we get to immediately.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Entry” means the intrusion of the entire body.

(2) “Notice” means:

(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;

(C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;

There are five forms of notice against entry in the state of Texas. The first is a verbal or written communication by the owner or the owner’s agent to a specific person or persons the entry on to the land, onto the premises or into the building is not allowed.

The second is fencing or some other enclosure or barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders from the property or to contain animals within the bounds of the property.

The third is any number of signs posted on the property at entrances or along the perimeter in a manner that is reasonably likely to come to the attention of potential intruders and describes the prohibited activity.

We will look at the fourth and fifth form of notice, identifying markings, just below.

(D) the placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are:

(i) vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width;

(ii) placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground or more than five feet from the ground; and

(iii) placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than:

(a) 100 feet apart on forest land; or

(b) 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land; or

(E) the visible presence on the property of a crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if harvested at the time of entry.

The placing of purple painted markings on posts or trees is a broadly standard method of marking land or property against trespassing throughout the U.S., but to have the force of law in Texas it must be done according to the standards described in (D).

Interestingly, the fifth form of notice is simply the visible growth of crops or the cultivation thereof on the property in question. If someone is growing crops and you enter upon that land without authority and consent you are trespassing.

Next up is a list of definitions, each of them places that, if trespassed upon, might qualify the trespassing charges as more severe. Review these.

(3) “Shelter center” has the meaning assigned by Section 51.002, Human Resources Code.

(4) “Forest land” means land on which the trees are potentially valuable for timber products.

(5) “Agricultural land” has the meaning assigned by Section 75.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(…)

(7) “Critical infrastructure facility” means one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders:

(A) a chemical manufacturing facility;

(B) a refinery;

(C) an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center, or electrical transmission or distribution facility;

(D) a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station;

(E) a natural gas transmission compressor station;

(F) a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;

(G) a telecommunications central switching office;

(H) a port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal, or other freight transportation facility;

(I) a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas; or

(J) a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station.

(8) “Protected freshwater area” has the meaning assigned by Section 90.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.

(…)

(10) “Recreational vehicle park” has the meaning assigned by Section 13.087, Water Code.

(11) “Residential land” means real property improved by a dwelling and zoned for or otherwise authorized for single-family or multifamily use.

(12) “Institution of higher education” has the meaning assigned by Section 61.003, Education Code.

(…)

In short, do not ever trespass upon any public or private utility facility or other commercial or industrial infrastructure installation, timber land, crop land, residential land or school as defined by 61.003.

(d)(1) through (d)(3) detail the penalty schedule for trespassing under various conditions in various locations:


(d) An offense under this section is:

(1) a Class B misdemeanor, except as provided by Subdivisions (2) and (3);

(2) a Class C misdemeanor, except as provided by Subdivision (3), if the offense is committed:

(A) on agricultural land and within 100 feet of the boundary of the land; or

(B) on residential land and within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area; and

(3) a Class A misdemeanor if:

(A) the offense is committed:

(i) in a habitation or a shelter center;

(ii) on a Superfund site; or

(iii) on or in a critical infrastructure facility;

(B) the offense is committed on or in property of an institution of higher education and it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted of:

(i) an offense under this section relating to entering or remaining on or in property of an institution of higher education; or

(ii) an offense under Section 51.204(b)(1), Education Code, relating to trespassing on the grounds of an institution of higher education; or

(C) the person carries a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.

(…)

All trespassing charges in this section are misdemeanors, but trespassing while carrying a deadly weapon (without proper authorization) or trespassing upon school grounds or on a superfund site results in a worse misdemeanor charge.

There are defenses to the charge of trespassing, detailed with excruciating thoroughness below.

NOTE: I have abridged much of this section for ease of understanding since the majority of our readers will not qualify for any of these defenses by occupation or accreditation.

The ones that are most pertinent to our readers involve license to carry a handgun in certain situations, and a few others.

I strongly recommend you read the entirety of the following section on the State legislature’s website in order to obtain a completely thorough understanding, especially if your profession involves traveling without notice upon other people’s property.


(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor at the time of the offense was:

(…)

(f) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the basis on which entry on the property or land or in the building was forbidden is that entry with a handgun was forbidden; and

(2) the person was carrying:

(A) a license issued under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, to carry a handgun; and

(B) a handgun:

(i) in a concealed manner; or

(ii) in a shoulder or belt holster.

(f-1) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the basis on which entry on the property was forbidden is that entry with a firearm or firearm ammunition was forbidden;

(2) the actor is:

(A) an owner of an apartment in a condominium regime governed by Chapter 81, Property Code;

(B) an owner of a condominium unit governed by Chapter 82, Property Code;

(C) a tenant or guest of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B); or

(D) a guest of a tenant of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B);

(3) the actor:

(A) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(B) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(C) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property; or

(D) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property; and

(4) the actor is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm or firearm ammunition.

(f-2) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the basis on which entry on a leased premises governed by Chapter 92, Property Code, was forbidden is that entry with a firearm or firearm ammunition was forbidden;

(2) the actor is a tenant of the leased premises or the tenant’s guest;

(3) the actor:

(A) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the tenant’s rental unit;

(B) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the tenant’s rental unit;

(C) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises; or

(D) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises; and

(4) the actor is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm or firearm ammunition.

(f-3) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the basis on which entry on a leased premises governed by Chapter 94, Property Code, was forbidden is that entry with a firearm or firearm ammunition was forbidden;

(2) the actor is a tenant of a manufactured home lot or the tenant’s guest;

(3) the actor:

(A) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the tenant’s manufactured home;

(B) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the tenant’s manufactured home;

(C) carries a firearm or firearm ammunition directly en route to or from the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or tenants’ guests by the landlord of the leased premises; or

(D) carries or stores a firearm or firearm ammunition in the actor’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or tenants’ guests by the landlord of the leased premises; and

(4) the actor is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm or firearm ammunition.

So that last part is an awful lot to take in, but in short it states that even if a property is posted against entry as it regards to firearms carried upon the premises, you might have certain rights if you’re the owner of said property, a legal tenant of a property (say something like an apartment building or condominium), or are the guest of a legal tenant on the property.

You will note above and all of those subsections, paragraphs and subparagraphs that there are strict requirements for the dispensation, storage and transport of firearms in order to be protected under the law.

I highly recommend any of you that use or carry firearms regularly become intimately familiar with all of them.

That was a doozy, but we are only a little more than halfway done. Up next is 30.06, which goes into even more detail on trespassing while being licensed to carry a concealed handgun.

Same thing here- I’ll insert my commentary between the breaks. All you concealed carry folks, pay attention:

Section 30.06. Trespass by License Holder With a Concealed Handgun

(a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder:

(1) carries a concealed handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and

(2) received notice that entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun was forbidden.

(b) For purposes of this section, a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication.

(c) In this section:

(1) “Entry” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.05(b).

(2) “License holder” has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f).

(3) “Written communication” means:

(A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun”; or

(B) a sign posted on the property that:

(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;

(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and

(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that, after entering the property, the license holder was personally given the notice by oral communication described by Subsection (b) and subsequently failed to depart.

In Texas, barring someone from carrying a concealed handgun that they are otherwise legally licensed and authorized to carry requires specific verbal or written notification according to the requirements laid out in the section above.

Even so, entering such a premises is still only a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, unless the owner or an owner’s authorized agent delivers a personal verbal notice after which the person carrying the concealed handgun refuses to leave.

(e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.

(e-1) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the license holder is:

(A) an owner of an apartment in a condominium regime governed by Chapter 81, Property Code;

(B) an owner of a condominium unit governed by Chapter 82, Property Code;

(C) a tenant or guest of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B); or

(D) a guest of a tenant of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B); and

(2) the license holder:

(A) carries or stores a handgun in the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(B) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(C) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property; or

(D) carries or stores a handgun in the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property.

(e-2) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the license holder is a tenant of a leased premises governed by Chapter 92, Property Code, or the tenant’s guest; and

(2) the license holder:

(A) carries or stores a handgun in the tenant’s rental unit;

(B) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the tenant’s rental unit;

(C) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises; or

(D) carries or stores a handgun in the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises.

(e-3) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(…)

The preceding paragraphs and subsections detail exceptions to the law codified by this section that are virtually identical to the preceding section.

Owners of certain properties and legal tenants of certain properties have specific rights concerning concealed carry of a handgun and a defense under the law so long as the prescriptions of storage, transport and carry are followed.

The final section we’ll explore today is mostly similar to the one we just investigated, but is concerned with the open carry of handguns:

Section 30.07. Trespass by License Holder With an Openly Carried Handgun

(a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder:

(1) openly carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and

(2) received notice that entry on the property by a license holder openly carrying a handgun was forbidden.

(b) For purposes of this section, a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication.

(c) In this section:

(1) “Entry” has the meaning assigned by Section 30.05(b).

(2) “License holder” has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f).

(3) “Written communication” means:

(A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly”; or

(B) a sign posted on the property that:

(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;

(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and

(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that, after entering the property, the license holder was personally given the notice by oral communication described by Subsection (b) and subsequently failed to depart.

Once again we see that prohibition of open carry of a handgun at a specific place requires specific notice to be a violation and considered trespassing.

The person carrying a handgun must receive notice by a written sign with all of the requirements above (this time specifically mentioning open carry of handguns) or by being told specifically.

Violating this section is once again a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine or by a fine and a stint in jail, in case someone ignores a specific oral communication.

The remainder of this section once again spells out quite a few exceptions and defenses to this statute, and mostly pertains to the rights of property owners and the legal tenants and guests of those owners. NOTE: It is not a defense for open carry under this section that the handgun is carried in a shoulder or belt holster or any other kind of holster, as you’ll see below.

—//—

(e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder openly carries the handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.

(e-1) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the license holder is:

(A) an owner of an apartment in a condominium regime governed by Chapter 81, Property Code;

(B) an owner of a condominium unit governed by Chapter 82, Property Code;

(C) a tenant or guest of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B); or

(D) a guest of a tenant of an owner described by Paragraph (A) or (B); and

(2) the license holder:

(A) carries or stores a handgun in the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(B) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the condominium apartment or unit owner’s apartment or unit;

(C) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property; or

(D) carries or stores a handgun in the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for residents or guests of the condominium property.

(e-2) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the license holder is a tenant of a leased premises governed by Chapter 92, Property Code, or the tenant’s guest; and

(2) the license holder:

(A) carries or stores a handgun in the tenant’s rental unit;

(B) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the tenant’s rental unit;

(C) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises; or

(D) carries or stores a handgun in the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or guests by the landlord of the leased premises.

(e-3) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the license holder is a tenant of a manufactured home lot governed by Chapter 94, Property Code, or the tenant’s guest; and

(2) the license holder:

(A) carries or stores a handgun in the tenant’s manufactured home;

(B) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the tenant’s manufactured home;

(C) carries a handgun directly en route to or from the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or tenants’ guests by the landlord of the leased premises; or

(D) carries or stores a handgun in the license holder’s vehicle located in a parking area provided for tenants or tenants’ guests by the landlord of the leased premises.

(f) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the handgun was carried in a shoulder or belt holster.

(…)

(h) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the license holder was personally given notice by oral communication described by Subsection (b) and promptly departed from the property.

Conclusion

Texas’ Laws governing trespassing are noteworthy for the intricacy with which they cover situations where a person carrying a handgun openly or in a concealed manner may or may not be considered trespassing.

These are important considerations for armed citizens moving around in the state, as there is plenty of overlap and perhaps friction between the rights of these armed citizens and the rights of property owners. Pay close attention to the exceptions for armed carry, and you will likely not have much trouble.

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