Wyoming: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land, Vehicles
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor, with one exception
- Fencing Required?: No.
- Signage Required?: Yes, if no verbal notice given.
- Verbal Notice Required?: Yes, if no signage posted.
Wyoming Trespassing Law Overview
- Like many rural states, Wyoming has few trespassing statutes.
- Trespassing is only a misdemeanor in Wyoming with one exception: unlawful entry of an occupied structure with intent to commit battery.
- An occupied structure is considered so whether or not any people are present!
Relevant Wyoming State Statutes
- 6-1-104. Definitions
- 6-3-202. Altering landmarks; penalties
- 6-3-302. Criminal entry; penalties; affirmative defenses
- 6-3-303. Criminal trespass; penalties
- 6-3-307. Unlawful entry into an occupied structure; penalty
You always want to begin any review of the law with the pertinent definitions. In Wyoming’s case, the chapter containing the statutes relevant to trespassing has its own section of definitions that covers all sections in the chapter.
I have omitted any that are not relevant to the rest of this article:
(a) As used in this act, unless otherwise defined:
(v) “Occupied structure” means a structure or vehicle whether or not a person is actually present:
(A) Where any person lives or carries on business or other calling;
(B) Where people assemble for purposes of business, government, education, religion, entertainment or public transportation;
(C) Which is used for overnight accommodation of persons; or
(D) In which a person may reasonably be expected to be present.
(vi) “Peace officer” includes the following officers assigned to duty in the state of Wyoming:
(A) Any duly authorized sheriff, under sheriff or deputy sheriff;
(B) Any duly authorized member of a municipal police force, a college or university campus police force or the Wyoming highway patrol;
(C) Game and fish law enforcement personnel qualified pursuant to W.S. 9-1-701 through 9-1-707 and:
(I) When enforcing felony statutes following observation or discovery of the commission of a felony which was observed or discovered during the performance of their statutory duties;
(II) While responding to requests to assist other peace officers performing their official duties or when enforcing a valid arrest warrant for any crime; or
(III) When enforcing any provision of title 23 and chapter 13 of title 41, any rule and regulation promulgated by the Wyoming game and fish commission or any other statute for which they are granted statutory enforcement authority.
(G) Federal law enforcement agents;
(P) Any superintendent, assistant superintendent or full-time park ranger of any state park, state recreation area, state archeological site or state historic site who has qualified pursuant to W.S. 9-1-701 through 9-1-707, when acting within the boundaries of the state park, state recreation area, state archeological site or state historic site or when responding to a request to assist other peace officers acting within the scope of their official duties in their own jurisdiction; and
(vii) “Person” includes an individual, partnership, corporation, joint stock company or any other association or entity, public or private;
(viii) “Property” means anything of value whether tangible or intangible, real or personal, public or private;
(ix) “Recklessly” is defined as the following conduct: A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the harm he is accused of causing will occur, and the harm results. The risk shall be of such nature and degree that disregarding it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation;
(xi) “Vehicle” means any device by which persons or property may be moved, carried or transported over land, water or air;
(xii) “Violent felony” means murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, sexual assault in the first or second degree, robbery, aggravated assault, strangulation of a household member, aircraft hijacking, arson in the first or second degree, aggravated burglary, a violation of W.S. 6-2-314(a)(i) or 6-2-315(a)(ii) or a third, or subsequent, domestic battery under W.S. 6-2-511(a) and (b)(iii);
One of the most interesting and relevant definitions in Wyoming is that of “occupied structure”, which, the way it is written, is essentially any building at all.
A careful review of that definition will show that these buildings are considered occupied structures whether or not people are actually present in them!
If it is any building in which a person may reasonably be expected to live, sleep, conduct business or simply be found in it is an occupied structure for the purposes of this chapter.
Also of particular interest is the list of “peace officers”, which are LEOs that can be reasonably expected to give valid orders pertaining to permission to enter or remain on a property.
Make sure you review the list carefully, since a few of them like fish and wildlife agents and park rangers only have authority in specific circumstances.
With the definitions out of the way we will move swiftly on to the next section, 6-3-202, covering the altering of landmarks, with landmarks in this case meaning boundary markers or other signage that demarcates private property:
6-3-202. Altering landmarks; penalties.
(a) A person is guilty of altering landmarks if, with intent to destroy or deface the mark on a monument, landmark or bearing-tree designating the corner or boundary of a tract of land, he knowingly:
(i) Displaces the monument or landmark;
(ii) Defaces or alters the mark; or
(iii) Breaks, cuts down or removes the monument, landmark or bearing-tree.
(b) Altering landmarks is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both.
Plainly stated you cannot go around defacing, removing or otherwise obscuring or destroying any landmarks In Wyoming, and don’t try to get cute by cutting down the object they are affixed to either, because that counts all the same.
Doing so is a misdemeanor that will get you tagged what’s six months in jail, a fine up to $750, or both in tandem. Don’t be messing around with those signs y’all!
Next up is criminal entry:
6-3-302. Criminal entry; penalties; affirmative defenses.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal entry if, without authority, he knowingly enters a building, occupied structure, vehicle or cargo portion of a truck or trailer, or a separately secured or occupied portion of those enclosures.
(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:
(i) The entry was made because of a mistake of fact or to preserve life or property in an emergency;
(ii) The enclosure was abandoned;
(iii) The enclosure was at the time open to the public and the person complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the enclosure; or
(iv) The person reasonably believed that the owner of the enclosure, or other person empowered to license access to the enclosure, would have authorized him to enter.
(c) Criminal entry is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both.
There is not much to this section. Criminal entry occurs whenever a person unlawfully enters any building, occupied structure or vehicle without the proper authority. That’s it.
There are affirmative defenses to this, including doing so by honest mistake, or in extremis where life may be in danger, or if the building is abandoned. If you can’t prove that much, you’ll be facing another misdemeanor charge, six months in jail, a fine of up to $750 or both.
As always, keep in mind that an occupied structure is considered such according to the definition in the first section even if no one is present at the time!
Now on to criminal trespass, a crime with slightly different qualifications than unlawful entry:
6-3-303. Criminal trespass; penalties.
(a) A person is guilty of criminal trespass if he enters or remains on or in the land or premises of another person, knowing he is not authorized to do so, or after being notified to depart or to not trespass. For purposes of this section, notice is given by:
(i) Personal communication to the person by the owner or occupant, or his agent, or by a peace officer; or
(ii) Posting of signs reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders.
(b) Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both.
(c) This section does not supersede W.S. 1-21-1003.
Criminal trespass is simply the entry or remaining upon the land or premises belonging to any other person knowing you do not have the right to do so or after receiving notification not to remain or not to trespass.
Receiving notification is qualified two different ways in Wyoming. The first is a direct communication to the person who is to leave or stay away from the property by the owner of the property, a person in legal control of the property, by a peace officer (as defined above) or as an agent for either the owner or legal occupant.
The second way of being notified is through the posting of any sign that is reasonably likely to come to the attention of a potential intruder.
Wyoming has no specific requirements for the type of sign, the language of the sign or the posting locations, so you’ll need to use your own judgment in these matters if you are protecting your own property.
Most states mandate signs posted along the perimeter of a property every so many hundred feet and at all the corners, as well as entryways to the property.
The last statute we need to review for Wyoming is 6-3-307 which covers unlawful entry into an occupied structure. If this sounds redundant considering the two sections we just covered, read on, anyway, as this is a surprisingly specific one, and also carries with it a felony charge:
6-3-307. Unlawful entry into an occupied structure; penalty.
(a) A person is guilty of unlawful entry into an occupied structure if, without authority, he enters or remains in an occupied structure and attempts to commit or commits battery as defined in W.S. 6-2-501 or domestic battery as defined in W.S. 6-2-511.
(b) Unlawful entry into an occupied structure is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both.
(c) As used in this section:
(i) “Occupied structure” means a structure, other than a vehicle, whether or not a person is actually present:
(A) Where any person lives; or
(B) Which is used for overnight accommodation or overnight shelter of persons.
I’m sure you saw the “gotcha” immediately; this is basically trespassing or unlawful entry with the intent to commit battery or domestic battery.
Doing so is a felony that carries with it a prison sentence of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.
Like so many other rural states, Wyoming’s laws on trespassing are few and general. Trespassing is a misdemeanor in Wyoming with the exception of unlawful entry into an occupied structure, which is a specific charge that is essentially trespass with the intent to commit battery.
Aside from that, you will find no odious regulations on specific signage, fencing requirements or anything else.
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.