Kentucky State Trespassing Laws

No matter where you live and no matter what kind of property you own or what you’re living arrangement is, it is in your best interest to understand well the trespassing laws in your state.

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You want to know these laws both so that you can avoid trespassing while on your own travels, but also so that you know exactly where your rights start and stop in regards to other people being on your property, whether or not they were initially invited.

When it comes to trespassing laws, Kentucky is pretty sensible. Most of the statutes are short, to the point, and easy to understand.

In Kentucky, assuming that no other criminal activity was underway or any property was damaged trespassing is always a misdemeanor, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about it.

There’s also a lot to know in regard to trespass upon public and private infrastructure and other facilities, and the state is surprisingly harsh on what it calls aerial surveillance through the use of drones. There’s a lot to learn, and we will tell you all about it below.

Kentucky Trespassing Law Overview

  • All forms of trespassing are misdemeanors in Kentucky.
  • However, trespassing in the furtherance of another crime or trespass that results in damage might qualify as a felony.
  • Kentucky has detailed statutes covering the use of drones for any sort of aerial surveillance of private and some public property. Violation is considered trespassing.

What Constitutes Trespassing in Kentucky?

Kentucky, like most states in the nation, broadly categorizes trespassing as entering in or remaining upon any property, be it land, a dwelling, a structure, or a vehicle, or remaining in or upon any such property after having permission but being told to depart by the owner or the owner’s authorized agent.

However, if someone is entering or remaining upon undeveloped land that is neither fenced nor posted against trespassing then it is not considered trespassing under the statutes unless the person doing so was specifically notified by the owner or the owner’s agent.

This is just one of a few reasons why you would need to post your land against trespassers.

You can read all about the general provisions for trespassing in section 511.090 of the state statutes, with the relevant parts included below verbatim:

511.090 General provisions.

(1) A person “enters or remains unlawfully” in or upon premises when he is not
privileged or licensed to do so.
(2) A person who, regardless of his intent, enters or remains in or upon premises which
are at the time open to the public does so with license or privilege unless he defies a
lawful order not to enter or remain personally communicated to him by the owner of
such premises or other authorized person.
(3) A license or privilege to enter or remain in or upon premises which are only partly
open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in or upon a part of
the premises which is not open to the public.
(4) A person who enters or remains upon unimproved and apparently unused land
which is neither fenced nor otherwise enclosed does not commit criminal trespass
unless notice against trespass is personally communicated to him by the owner of
the land or some other authorized person or unless notice is given by posting in a
conspicuous manner.

Does Kentucky Require “No Trespassing” Signs?

Yes, in some cases. Any property may be posted with no-trespassing signage it will serve as a notification against trespassing.

However it is not required to post signage in order to qualify criminal trespass in the second degree- that is for fencing only- but it does give notice against the same for undeveloped land.

If undeveloped land does not have any posted signage, fencing, or other barriers to entry then unauthorized entry onto that land is not considered trespassing unless the person doing so has already been specifically notified against it by the owner or the owner’s agent.

Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?

Yes, if you want to protect unimproved property against trespassers as described above, and unlike posted signage it also qualifies trespassing in the second degree.

What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?

None. Kentucky is not a state that relies upon so-called purple paint laws for posting against trespassing on vacant land and other properties.

The short version is that some states allow property owners to Mark the boundaries of their property with vertical stripes of purple paint instead of posting signs or erecting fences.

Such markings do not have the force of law behind them in Kentucky, even though plenty of people understand the meaning of such markings.

If you want to post your property against trespassing you’ll have to do it with signage or fencing.

Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?

No. Generally, solicitors of any kind cannot ignore no-trespassing signs that are posted conspicuously at entry points onto your property, be that at the driveway or near the front door.

It should also be noted, however, that Kentucky does not have a particularly harsh record when it comes to dealing with flagrant no-trespassing sign violations by solicitors unless they are especially egregious.

Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in Kentucky?

Yes. Trespassing in Kentucky absent any other crime or damage is only a misdemeanor, but don’t take that to mean that such crimes don’t matter.

Being charged with trespassing can result in substantial fines and even jail sentences, so you definitely don’t want to trespass even accidentally in your travels, and you shouldn’t think you are helpless because someone is trespassing on your property.

Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?

Yes, definitely, and especially in cases of repeat offenses, targeted and malicious activity, stalking, or if the perpetrator already has a criminal record or is a repeat offender when it comes to trespassing.

Whether or not you should is another matter, because legal proceedings, especially when they’re only over principal, get very expensive very quickly.

However, if you think someone might be a threat it is definitely within your right to press charges even if they are “only” trespassing.

Special Instances of Trespassing in Kentucky

Kentucky has a lengthy statute that covers a special kind of trespassing that is known as trespass upon key infrastructure assets.

As you might expect from the title, this covers trespassing on all sorts of utilities, industrial infrastructure, transportation hubs, factories, plants, refineries, and so forth.

Also, the same statute, 511.100, discusses the use of unmanned aircraft systems, and drones, for the observation and surveillance of both private and publicly owned properties that is unlawful or without specific permission.

This can be quite a touchy thing for any drone enthusiast, and it is one that entails some pretty serious charges so make sure you read the entirety of the statute for all the information.

Some text of the statute concerning drone surveillance has been omitted for brevity, but you can find some along with a list of what Kentucky defines as key infrastructure assets below.

511.100 Trespass upon key infrastructure assets.

(1) As used in this section:
(a) “Key infrastructure assets” means:
1. Any critical node of a system used in the production or generation of
electrical energy;
2. A petroleum refinery;
3. A rubber or hazardous chemical manufacturing facility;
4. A petroleum or hazardous chemical storage facility or terminal;
5. Natural gas processing, fractionation, stabilization, and compressor
station facilities, as well as above-ground pipelines and related facilities;
6. Railroad yards and railroad tunnel portals;
7. A drinking water collection, treatment, or storage facility;
8. Grounds or property of a state prison, juvenile justice facility, jail, or
other facility for the detention of persons charged with or convicted of
crimes;
9. A facility used for research, development, design, production, delivery,
or maintenance of military weapons systems, subsystems, and
components or parts to meet military requirements of the United States;
or
10. A wireless communications facility, including the tower, antennae,
support structures and all associated ground-based equipment, and a
telecommunications central switching office; and

(2) (a) A person commits the offense of trespass upon key infrastructure assets if he
or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon real property on
which key infrastructure assets are located.
(b) A person commits the offense of trespass upon key infrastructure assets if he
or she knowingly uses, or retains or authorizes a person to use, an unmanned
aircraft system to fly above real property on which key infrastructure assets
are located with the intent to cause harm or damage to or conduct surveillance
of the key infrastructure asset without the prior consent of the owner, tenant,
or lessee of the real property.
(3) Trespass upon key infrastructure assets is a Class B misdemeanor for the first
offense, and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.

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