Delaware State Trespassing Laws

If you own property, it is important that you understand all the ins and outs of your state’s laws concerning trespassing.

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If you don’t know the law, you might not have the decisiveness to act when dealing with trespassers.

You might also overreact with force to a crime that in no way justifies it, which will make your life very hard indeed and can result in criminal charges against you!

Luckily, Delaware is a state with simple, clean, and easy to understand laws that cover trespassing.

Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know along with a few important snippets with text taken directly from the law books.

Delaware Trespassing Law Overview

  • All forms of trespassing are misdemeanors in Delaware.
  • Delaware has special statutes that classify peeping tom activity and other violations of privacy as trespass.
  • In Delaware, a person is guilty of committing criminal trespass anytime they knowingly enter or remain unlawfully upon any real property.

What Constitutes Trespassing in Delaware?

Delaware State statutes define trespassing as an entering or remaining unlawfully in or upon any premises where a person does not have privilege or license to do so regardless of intent.

Furthermore “entering”, as defined in Delaware, is the introducing of any body part or any part of any instrument by any means whatsoever into or upon premises.

Said in layman’s terms, placing any part of your body or any tool or other object whatsoever upon someone else’s property, be it private or public, when you do not have explicit permission to do so could constitute trespassing.

Make sure you read the relevant definitions yourself in section 829 of the state statutes which covers all definitions related to trespassing and similar crimes.

Section 829 Definitions relating to criminal trespass, burglary and home invasion.

(b) “Dwelling” means a building which is usually occupied by a person lodging therein at night including a building that has been adapted or is customarily used for overnight accommodation.(d) A person “enters” upon premises when the person introduces any body part or any part of any instrument, by whatever means, into or upon the premises.(e) A person “enters or remains unlawfully” in or upon premises when the person is not licensed or privileged to do so. A person who, regardless of intent, enters or remains upon premises which appear at the time to be open to the public does so with license and privilege unless the person defies a lawful order not to enter or remain, personally communicated by the owner of the premises or another authorized person. A license or privilege to enter or remain in a building which is only partly open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in that part of the building which is not open to the public.

Does Delaware Require “No Trespassing” Signs?

No, although posted no trespassing signs can serve as specific notice forbidding entry from anyone that is not specifically given permission to be upon a property or premises.

Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?

Yes, in certain instances. Specifically, section 822 talks about criminal trespass in the second degree which is defined as a person knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building or any other property which is fenced or enclosed in a manner that is designed to exclude intruders. This is a misdemeanor charge.

Note that the exact language of the statute says nothing about posted signage or other markings and only makes reference to fencing or other physical enclosures.

You can read that as walls, barricades, and so forth that are designed to keep people out.

Section 822 Criminal trespass in the second degree.

A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building or upon real property which is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner manifestly designed to exclude intruders.Criminal trespass in the second degree is an unclassified misdemeanor.

What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?

None. Several states utilize what are commonly referred to as “purple paint” laws for posting the boundaries of undeveloped land and any other real property against trespassers.

These markings usually take the form of vertical slashes applied to trees or posts with a specific shade of purple paint, but Delaware has no such laws backing up these markings.

More people than you might think could recognize what these markings mean and might choose to obey them, but if you want the law to support you when it comes to posting your property against trespassers you’ll need to use fencing or signage.

Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?

Generally not, and they definitely cannot ignore fencing with gates that are not left wide open.

Now, depending on your jurisdiction solicitors might be more or less bold but it is not out of the question that you could press charges against anyone who violates your quiet domain in defiance of fencing and posted signs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that official employees of government agencies, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and the like that are acting in the execution of their official duties can in all likelihood ignore posted signage and fencing so long as they’re acting within the law on such things.

Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in Delaware?

Absolutely. Most forms of trespassing in Delaware are misdemeanors, but this doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t be arrested for trespassing.

Also means that you couldn’t be arrested for trespassing if you do the same thing, so make sure you know exactly where you are and are not allowed to go, particularly when out hiking, camping, and hunting.

Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?

Yes, and you can definitely take them to court over trespassing that results in damages or repeated violations.

Generally speaking, for serious trespassing charges to stick your land will need to be fenced or conspicuously posted with signs forbidding trespassers.

Ultimately, you can also specifically deliver verbal notice to a trespasser or suspected trespasser in writing or have them served notice for the same purpose.

If they should violate this specific warning, they will be facing more serious charges and you will have a stronger case in court.

Special Instances of Trespassing in Delaware

Delaware does have several special trespassing statutes on the books. Section 820 covers trespassing with the intent to peer or peep into a window or door, basically a “peeping tom” statute.

Though despicable, this type of activity is still a misdemeanor, though it is a class B misdemeanor.

Also noteworthy is section 823 which covers criminal trespass in the first degree. One may only trespass in the first degree by entering unlawfully or remaining in a dwelling or building that is used to shelter, house, milk, or otherwise raise animals. This is a class A misdemeanor.

Section 820 Trespassing with intent to peer or peep into a window or door of another.A person is guilty of trespassing with intent to peer or peep into a window or door of another when the person knowingly enters upon the occupied property or premises of another utilized as a dwelling, with intent to peer or peep into the window or door of such property or premises and who, while on such property or premises, otherwise acts in a manner commonly referred to as “Peeping Tom.” Any person violating this section may be referred by the court to the Delaware Psychiatric Center for examination and for treatment. Justices of the peace shall have concurrent jurisdiction of violations of this section.Trespassing with intent to peer or peep into a window or door of another is a class B misdemeanor.Section 823 Criminal trespass in the first degree.A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling or building used to shelter, house, milk, raise, feed, breed, study or exhibit animals.Criminal trespass in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
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