Trespass in Oklahoma: Don’t Go There
In Oklahoma, trespassing is a misdemeanor. Charges can result in fines and jail or prison time, depending on the nature of the alleged trespass.
Traveling across yards, gardens, or fields with no trespassing signs posted can result in a $250 fine.
Oklahoma law specifies acceptable language for no trespassing signs, but also recognizes similar signs.
The language on no trespassing signs can include “PROPERTY RESTRICTED”; “POSTED – KEEP OUT”; “KEEP OUT”; or “NO TRESPASSING.”
Whether the property is fenced or unfenced, the signs must be conspicuous, including at all places where normal entry to the property would occur.
Damaging property while trespassing, or attempting to damage or steal from a posted property can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Penalties include fines ranging from $50 to $500, jail terms from 30 to 180 days, or fines and jail time. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1835
Update: As of November 1, 2021, Oklahoma law no longer requires signage. As a result, there does not need to be a sign present for unauthorized entry to be considered trespassing. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1835
Trespassing on Un-Posted Property
Some areas are particularly considered off limits even without no trespassing signs. Likewise, engaging in certain activities on private property even if it is not posted can be considered trespassing. Pecan groves, for example, are set aside under Oklahoma trespassing law.
Entering a pecan grove without permission can result in a $250 fine. Taking pecans or otherwise stealing, damaging, or wasting anything in the grove can result in fines up to $500, jail terms of 30 to 180 days, or both.
Thinking of grabbing some firewood wood from an otherwise seldom used field? Think again.
Cutting standing live wood or down wood that has been cut is considered trespass under Oklahoma’s malicious mischief chapter.
Driving through orchards, hedges, or tree rows can also qualify as trespass.
Taking any produce from another’s “freehold” amounts to trespassing in Oklahoma.
In cities and towns, carrying away stones or dirt, or simply digging along public streets or highways can be charged as a misdemeanor trespass.
Issues of Proof
So what happens if you are caught on someone else’s land without other explanation? In Oklahoma, being caught on someone else’s land is evidence that you are there for some sort of recreational use.
Sometimes there are “no trespassing” signs posted. If signs are posted, the landowner’s consent to your presence on the land is not implied. And the absence of a sign does not imply consent by itself.
However, implied consent to your presence may be an affirmative defense that you should explore with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1835.5
Off-road four-wheeling, dirt-biking, or riding ATVs is a favorite sport for many. However, off-road driving on private land or driving on the wet, muddy roads of a private property owner can be charged as mud-bogging under Oklahoma’s recreational trespass law.
You don’t need a vehicle to be charged with recreational trespass, though. Littering, damaging private property, obstructing roads, or even leaving gates open on private property while participating in recreational activities can also be considered recreational trespass.
A conviction for recreational trespass can result in a $250 fine and as much as 10 days in jail.
Second offenses within a year can result in 20 days in jail.
A third or subsequent conviction can result in six months in jail, in addition to more fines.
Aggravated Recreational Trespass
Recklessly driving an automobile or other motor vehicles on private land in a way that endangers others raises the stakes. Prosecutors might then allege aggravated recreational trespass.
A first offense for aggravated recreational trespass can result in a $500 fine, or 1o days in jail, or both.
Shopkeepers May Keep You Out
Under Oklahoma law, a person such as a shopkeeper or any other professional who runs a business may ban you from entering the premises if you have been convicted of a crime on the property such as shoplifting, vandalism, or disturbing the peace. A shopkeeper must notify you of the ban.
Once notified, if you willfully enter the property or remain there after being forbidden, you could be convicted of trespass. The court could and sentence you to up to 30 days in the county jail, or up to $250 in fines, or both.
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