By Robert Nislick
Someone is entering on your property without your permission. Maybe he has come into your house, workplace, apartment building, condominium, or store. You have told him to leave. You don’t want him to come back.
This scary person is a trespasser. What can you do to help protect yourself against person who intentionally intruding on your property without permission?
The Massachusetts criminal trespass statute, G. L. c. 266, § 120, allows a property owner to issue a notice to the trespasser forbidding him from entering or remaining on the property. The owner who drafts such a “No Trespass Notice” should have a constable serve it on the trespasser. The owner should also mail a copy of the notice to the local police department.
If a person trespasses after being forbidden to enter or remain there by the person in lawful control over the premises, either directly or by means of a posted notice, then the trespasser can be criminally charged. If convicted, the statute provides for punishment by a fine of up to $100, or by imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both.
Someone who is charged with a count of criminal trespass should consider making a motion at his arraignment or at the pretrial conference to ask the court to decriminalize the charge and treat it as a civil matter, pursuant to G. L. c. 277, § 70C.
It is important to note that this statute does not apply to holdover tenants of residential premises, or a tenant whose right to possess the premises has been terminated by a notice to quit. In those circumstances, the statute is clear that owner or landlord of said premises may recover possession only through summary process.
If someone is trespassing on your property and you need to draft and serve such a notice, or if you have been charged with criminal trespass, contact Robert Nislick, a Massachusetts real estate attorney and defense attorney, today.