Understanding your home state’s trespassing laws is critical for protecting your property rights and also to be sure you don’t violate anyone else’s when you are out hunting, hiking, camping, or scouting.
But to have a full understanding you’ll actually have to study the law as written in your state’s statutes.
“Common sense” does not cut it, especially if you were to accidentally trespass yourself; ignorance of the law is never an excuse!
Nebraska is a state with short, simple, and relatively few laws concerning trespassing. This is not to say that they are open to interpretation or the state has no provision for enforcement, but much of the nuance has been settled by case law on the matter.
This can be a little frustrating for property owners since the laws are so limited and sometimes even vague in their interpretation, but this usually isn’t an issue.
Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about Nebraska’s trespassing laws and also include the exact text of the various sections you should study.
Nebraska Trespassing Law Overview
- The specific statutes covering trespassing in Nebraska only apply to buildings, dwellings, and land.
- Trespassing in Nebraska is a misdemeanor.
- Neither fencing nor signage is required for the law to take effect concerning trespassing, but trespassing in defiance of either constitutes more serious charges.
What Constitutes Trespassing in Nebraska?
Criminal trespass in Nebraska is defined as one of two things. For first-degree criminal trespass, it is the entering or secretly remaining in any building or occupied structure or any separately secured or occupied portion of said structure knowing that the person doing so lacks license or privilege.
Alternatively, it is entering or remaining in any place which has given notice against trespassing by posted signage, fencing, or other enclosures or actual communication from the owner or owner’s agent without privilege or license.
Basically, if you don’t have explicit permission to be there and the property belongs to someone else, you are trespassing. The only question is how bad the charges are.
You can read about criminal trespass in the first degree below, section 28-520 of the Nebraska state statutes:
28-520. Criminal trespass, first degree; penalty.
(1) A person commits first degree criminal trespass if:
(a) He or she enters or secretly remains in any building or occupied structure, or any separately secured or occupied portion thereof, knowing that he or she is not licensed or privileged to do so; or
(b) He or she enters or remains in or on a public power infrastructure facility knowing that he or she does not have the consent of a person who has the right to give consent to be in or on the facility.
(2) First degree criminal trespass is a Class I misdemeanor.
(3) For purposes of this section, public power infrastructure facility means a power plant, an electrical station or substation, or any other facility which is used by a public power supplier as defined in section 70-2103 to support the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity and which is surrounded by a fence or is otherwise enclosed.
Does Nebraska Require “No Trespassing” Signs?
Yes, to qualify for the degree of trespassing. In the case of second-degree trespassing, codified in section 28-521, trespassing on or in any property lacking privilege or license under the law in defiance of notice against trespassing given by signage is a violation
Read below and you will see in paragraph 1 subsection B the mention of posting property against trespassing via signage.
28-521. Criminal trespass, second degree; penalty.
(1) A person commits second degree criminal trespass if, knowing that he or she is not licensed or privileged to do so, he or she enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
(a) Actual communication to the actor; or
(b) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(c) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders except as otherwise provided in section 28-520.
(2) Second degree criminal trespass is a Class III misdemeanor, except as provided for in subsection (3) of this section.
(3) Second degree criminal trespass is a Class II misdemeanor if the offender defies an order to leave personally communicated to him or her by the owner of the premises or other authorized person.
Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?
No, not explicitly, but it does qualify the severity of the trespassing in the same way that violating posted signage does.
Once again, read the preceding statute and you’ll see it makes mention of fencing or other enclosures against entry for the purpose.
What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?
None. Some states have on their law books what are commonly referred to as purple paint laws, which basically mean that property owners can post the boundaries of their properties against trespassers by using high visibility purple markings on fence posts, trees, or other terrain features to notify people that trespassing is forbidden.
Unfortunately, Nebraska is not one of them. You’ll need to stick with signage, fencing, or both if you want the full force of law to back you up when it comes time to keep trespassers off your property.
Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?
They aren’t supposed to, but in practice they usually will although this can sometimes backfire on them.
We will read later in section 28-522 that there are affirmative defenses against the charges of trespassing, and one of them being that the person doing so reasonably believed the owner of the property would have granted them permission to be on the property.
Especially in suburban and urban settings, it is not out of the question that a solicitor that approaches directly to knock on the door of a home could be said to be asking permission from the homeowner to be there and deliver their pitch for whatever they happen to be selling.
If you really want to keep your home and time free of solicitors, make it a point to post no solicitation signage and invest in a locked gate and fence if applicable.
Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in Nebraska?
Absolutely. Trespassing on critical infrastructure or flagrantly trespassing on the lands or other property of another can definitely result in arrest.
Also, keep in mind while you are out and about on your adventures that trespassing on the lands of someone else, even if done accidentally, may result in arrest!
Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?
Yes, especially if damage results that enable the trespassing or during the trespass.
Also if the trespassing is done in a targeted manner as part of a campaign of stalking or other harassment, you definitely have grounds for taking someone to court. Repeated violations are also certainly the basis for a lawsuit.
Special Instances of Trespassing in Nebraska
There are no special instances of trespassing, per se, in Nebraska but there are several affirmative defenses that you should be aware of.
Note, an affirmative defense is not an exemption or forgiveness: affirmative defenses are ones that must be used in court, which means that whether you are the trespasser or the “trespassee” you’ll still have to air it all out before a judge.
In short, the affirmative defenses against trespassing in Nebraska are that the trespasser believed the building or occupied structure, if applicable, was abandoned.
The person doing so reasonably believed that the owner of said property or the owner’s agent would have given them permission to enter or may on the property
Also, any person attempting to navigate a non-powered watercraft on a waterway found it necessary to carry their craft (portage) around fencing or obstructions in the waterway that belonged to the property they crossed.
You can read the exact verbiage of these affirmative defenses for yourself in 28-522, included below:
28-522. Criminal trespass; affirmative defenses.
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under sections 28-520 and 28-521 that:
(1) A building or occupied structure involved in an offense under section 28-520 was abandoned; or
(2) The premises were at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises; or
(3) The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the premises or other person empowered to license access thereto would have licensed him to enter or remain; or
(4) The actor was in the process of navigating or attempting to navigate with a nonpowered vessel any stream or river in this state and found it necessary to portage or otherwise transport the vessel around any fence or obstructions in such stream or river.