Whether you own property or just rent, understanding your rights to a quiet domain and to the control of access to your home and surrounding grounds is important.
I don’t think anyone likes the idea of trespassers being able to come and go as they please, but flying off the handle and overreacting without a solid understanding of the law to make a bad situation worse and just wind up with you getting in trouble.
Because of this, it is critical that all citizens understand the trespassing laws of their state.
You’ll need to know under what context someone is actually trespassing and what you can do about it, as well as any obligations you might have in posting your land or premises against potential trespassers.
Alaska is a state with clear and easy to understand laws on trespassing, although it does have one fairly unique law on the books concerning an affirmative defense to trespassing if the person doing so is in dire need. We’ll tell you everything you need to know below.
Alaska Trespassing Law Overview
- Concerning vacant, unused land, entry on to and use of the land is not considered trespassing unless it is fenced, posted, or a notice against trespassing has been communicated to the entering party verbally or in writing.
- Trespassing in Alaska is a misdemeanor in and of itself, whether or not someone is trespassing with the intention of committing a crime or in a dwelling determines the category of misdemeanor.
- Alaska provides an affirmative defense to the accusation of trespassing if the person occupying a property or premises does so in case of emergency and immediate, dire need, assuming they immediately notify the owner of the property as soon as they can.
What Constitutes Trespassing in Alaska?
Trespassing is defined in section 11.46.350 as entering or remaining unlawfully, and specifically means to enter or remain in or upon the premises or controlled vehicle of another without privilege to do so whenever the premises or vehicle is not open to the public.
It is further defined as failing to leave any premises or vehicle that is open to the public after being directed to do so by any person in charge of the premises or vehicle.
Article 2. Burglary and Criminal Trespass. Sec. 11.46.350. Definition; privilege to enter or remain on unimproved land.
(a) As used in AS 11.46.300 — 11.46.350, unless the context requires otherwise, “enter or remain unlawfully” means to
(1) enter or remain in or upon premises or in a propelled vehicle when the premises or propelled vehicle, at the time of the entry or remaining, is not open to the public and when the defendant is not otherwise privileged to do so;
(2) fail to leave premises or a propelled vehicle that is open to the public after being lawfully directed to do so personally by the person in charge; or
(3) enter or remain upon premises or in a propelled vehicle in violation of a provision in an order issued or filed under AS 18.66.100 — 18.66.180 or issued under former AS 25.35.010(b) or 25.35.020.
Does Alaska Require “No Trespassing” Signs?
No, so long as specific notice against trespassing is given verbally or in writing.
This means that the owner of the property, the owner’s agent, or authorized law enforcement may deliver a notice against trespassing on a specific parcel to an individual and it will have the force of law behind it.
If the individual in question then proceeded to trespass on said premises or vehicle, they could be charged with trespassing.
However, any posted signs against trespassing certainly qualify for notice against doing so as long as they are posted in a reasonably conspicuous way.
Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?
No, fencing is not required to protect property if signage is posted. However, land that is undeveloped and apparently unused that is unfenced and unposted may be considered free to use or cross by passersby.
You can of course give verbal notice to people to vacate your land, whether or not they are on foot or in a vehicle, but if you want the force of law behind you in keeping people off of your land, whether it is developed or not, you’ll need to fence it or post signage.
What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?
Although not supported by law, purple paint slashes are used to denote “no trespassing” when placed along posts or trees on a property’s bounds.
These are generally understood, but if you want maximum protection against trespassing under the law you should post signs.
Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?
No, so long as signs are posted conspicuously. Keep in mind that in emergencies people might be able to trespass upon your land or even into a structure if they are in dire need of help or shelter.
You should also keep in mind that duly authorized law enforcement, public service personnel, and other employees or contractors of city, county, and state organizations may be able to ignore no trespassing signs on private land in the execution of their usual duties.
Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in Alaska?
Yes, it can, though there is no type of trespassing that is itself explicitly a felony charge in Alaska.
Trespassing in a dwelling or on land in violation of posted signage is a misdemeanor charge, however, and can be dealt with accordingly.
Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?
Yes, especially if it damages your property, breaches the peace, or violates your privacy.
Special Instances of Trespassing in Alaska
Alaska does have a law on the books, or rather an affirmative defense to charges of trespassing, that is fairly unique.
Section 11.46.340 discusses the emergency use of any given premises. Specifically, the entry, use, or occupation of any premises or the use of any personal property on a premises in a genuine emergency and with dire need is considered an “excuse” for trespassing so long as the use, entry, occupancy, etc. is it reported to the owner of said premises or the owner’s agent.
Or, lacking any information about who the owner of the property might be, reported to the nearest state or local police agency.
Now, this might sound unthinkable to those of us living in the lower 48, but when you consider just how dangerous and remote the majority of Alaska can be this does make a certain amount of sense.
Even regular activities in the far reaches of Alaska, particularly during winter, can turn into life-threatening affairs in the blink of an eye.
A person might need to take advantage of the first and best available shelter to them if they want to survive, property rights be damned.
Though this is certainly not carte blanche to make use of people’s property and things whenever convenient or desirable, it does afford people that are in a truly desperate situation a little bit of extra protection under the law.
Do keep in mind, like all affirmative defenses this is one that must be proved in court! It does not clear someone at the scene of any real or perceived wrongdoing!
Article 2. Burglary and Criminal Trespass. Sec. 11.46.340. Defense: emergency use of premises.
In a prosecution under AS 11.46.300, 11.46.310, 11.46.320, or 11.46.330(a)(1), it is an affirmative defense that
(1) the entry, use, or occupancy of premises or use of personal property on the premises is for an emergency in the case of immediate and dire need; and
(2) as soon as reasonably practical after the entry, use, or occupancy, the person contacts the owner of the premises, the owner’s agent or, if the owner is unknown, the nearest state or local police agency, and makes a report of the time of the entry, use, or occupancy and any damage to the premises or personal property, unless notice waiving necessity of the report is posted on the premises by the owner or the owner’s agent.