North Dakota State Trespassing Laws

If you own property, be it your own home or just vacant land, it is a good idea to brush up on the trespassing laws in your state.

Even if you just rent or lease land, you’ll still want to know the trespassing laws in your home state.

This is the only way to know the exact extent of your rights concerning your property, particularly keeping unwanted visitors off of it.

Although pretty much everyone has an instinctive idea of what trespassing is, the laws from state to state can vary significantly.

Exactly what constitutes trespassing on various types of property and under various circumstances is nowhere near uniform across the nation.

Also just as importantly the penalties for trespassing can also be significantly different from state to state.

Luckily, or unluckily for trespassers, North Dakota has some of the clearest and most concise trespassing laws to be found anywhere, and also some of the stiffest penalties for doing so. You can learn what they are in this article.

North Dakota Trespassing Law Overview

  • Trespassing can be a misdemeanor or a felony in North Dakota.
  • Trespassing in any dwelling or high-security area is a felony.
  • Most trespassing charges incur significant fines.

What Constitutes Trespassing in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, criminal trespassing is generally defined as entering or remaining on any property, premises, dwelling, or structure without the license or privilege to do so, or without the legal authority to do so lacking said license or privilege.

North Dakota, like many states, qualifies the severity of the trespassing and the attendant charges depending on the type of property a person is trespassing on and whether or not they ignored posted signage or circumvented fencing or other barriers to entry.

Trespassing in any dwelling as defined by the state statutes is a felony, as is doing so in any highly secured premises, which is generally defined as any facility or area where a person must wear a visible picture ID while on the premises.

You can read all about both instances in 12.1-22-03:

12.1-22-03. Criminal trespass – Noncriminal offense on posted property.
1. An individual is guilty of a class C felony if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual enters or remains in a dwelling or in highly secured premises.
2. An individual is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual:
a. Enters or remains in or on any building, occupied structure, or storage structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or
b. Enters or remains in any place so enclosed as manifestly to exclude intruders.
3. a. An individual is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, knowing that that individual is not licensed or privileged to do so, the individual enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by actual communication to the actor by the individual in charge of the premises or other authorized individual or by posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders. The name of the person posting the premises must appear on each sign in legible characters.
(…)

Does North Dakota Require “No Trespassing” Signs?

No, but it does qualify as criminal trespassing as detailed above. A person who is entering or remaining upon any property or premises in defiance of notification via a posted sign that is reasonably likely to come to the attention of a would-be intruder is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

If vacant, unimproved land is not posted in this way against trespassers, the charges will be significantly lessened.

If it helps, consider posting signage at all of the relevant points around the perimeter of a property to be the same as directly notifying someone that trespassing is forbidden.

Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?

No, but as with signage it does qualify the severity of the trespassing, and a person who unlawfully and without privilege or legal authority enters or remains upon any property or premises that is manifestly enclosed to prevent intruders, read that as fencing or walls, commits a class A misdemeanor.

What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?

None. In North Dakota, only posted signage, fencing or walls, or direct notification of trespassers counts as notice against trespass.

Specifically, painted marks on fence posts or trees do not count as notice, unlike some other states.

Do note that even while such markings are becoming more common, and though many people know what such markings indicate, they do not have the law backing them up in North Dakota.

If you do decide to use such markings, they will be for convenience or visibility only.

Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?

Generally not, and North Dakota is a state that does not mess around when it comes to trespassing.

Although I would not expect much to come of a solicitor who ignored a no-trespassing sign alone in a populated neighborhood or in the middle of the city, the same probably cannot be said for more rural or remote properties.

Also, no solicitor can ignore a locked gate or fence, and circumventing either would definitely result in them getting in trouble and being charged with trespassing.

Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in North Dakota?

Absolutely. As mentioned above, North Dakota is quite serious about trespassing charges, a position that is easy to see from how acute the trespassing laws are and how serious the penalties are for breaking them.

Any trespasser, especially one who ignores a posted sign or your fencing, could face arrest in addition to a fine.

Likewise, don’t assume that you yourself can accidentally blunder onto someone’s land and get away scot-free if they want to make a point out of it. This is especially important for hunters, campers, hikers, and the like.

Ignorance of the law, or where you are, is never an excuse!

Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?

Yes, you can. You especially can if the trespassing results in damages to fencing or any other property, if it violates your privacy or if the trespassing is done to further the commission of any other crime.

Special Instances of Trespassing in North Dakota

North Dakota has several special statutes covering, let us say, interesting variants of trespassing. Namely unlawful entry into any vehicle or stowing away aboard a ship, plane, or train.

You can read about both instances in 12.1-22-04 and 12.1-22-05 below:

12.1-22-04. Unlawful entry into or concealment within a vehicle.
1. A person is guilty of an offense if, knowing that the person is not licensed or privileged
to do so, the person:
a. Forcibly enters a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft;
b. Enters a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, without the use of force, with intent to commit
a crime; or
c. Enters a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft lawfully, and with the intent to commit a crime,
conceals oneself in the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft.
2. The offense is a class B felony if the actor is armed with a firearm, destructive device,
or other weapon the possession of which under the circumstances indicates an intent
or readiness to inflict serious bodily injury. Otherwise the offense is a class C felony.
12.1-22-05. Stowing away.
A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he surreptitiously remains aboard a vehicle, train, vessel, or aircraft with intent to obtain transportation.

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