Virginia law on Trespass
Va. Code 18.2-119 prohibits “Trespass After Having Been Forbidden To Do So.” In whole, this statute reads:
If any person without authority of law goes upon or remains upon the lands, buildings or premises of another, or any portion or area thereof, after having been forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner, lessee, custodian, or the agent of any such person, or other person lawfully in charge thereof, or after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by or at the direction of such persons or the agent of any such person or by the holder of any easement or other right-of-way authorized by the instrument creating such interest to post such signs on such lands, structures, premises or portion or area thereof at a place or places where it or they may be reasonably seen, or if any person, whether he is the owner, tenant or otherwise entitled to the use of such land, building or premises, goes upon, or remains upon such land, building or premises after having been prohibited from doing so by a court of competent jurisdiction by an order issued pursuant to §§ 16.1-253, 16.1-253.1, 16.1-253.4, 16.1-278.2 through 16.1-278.6, 16.1-278.8, 16.1-278.14, 16.1-278.15, 16.1-279.1, 19.2-152.8, 19.2-152.9 or § 19.2-152.10 or an ex parte order issued pursuant to § 20-103, and after having been served with such order, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not be construed to affect in any way the provisions of §§ 18.2-132 through 18.2-136.
Trespass is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, and up to a $2,500.00 fine.
One common predicate to a Tresspass charge is to be formally “Trespassed” by police, or to receive a “barment order.” These will be formal notice that you are not to return to the specified property, usually for a particular period of time. The provisions of a Protective Order may also provide grounds for a future Trespass charge.
But oral notice is also sufficient, and notice that you are prohibited on a certain property does not need to come “from the top.” The notice can come from a “owner, lessee, custodian, or the agent of any such person, or other person lawfully in charge thereof, or after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs.”
The conduct must be wilful and defenses can include “good faith,” such as a genuine but mistaken belief that the barment had expired, or had exceptions.
The Commonwealth must prove the elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes proving that the person who barred you from the property actually had the authority to do so.