South Carolina State Trespassing Laws

When it comes to trespassing laws, you would be wise not to treat them as an insignificant crime.

flag of south carolina

Though trespassing laws are largely similar throughout the United States, each and every state has its own variations when it comes to enforcement, requirements, and most importantly penalties.

Take South Carolina for instance, South Carolina is a state with multiple statutes concerning trespassing on a public and private property, but most of them are easy to understand and make sense.

What you’ll definitely need to know (whether or not you are a property owner) is which types of trespassing are misdemeanors and which are felonies, along with the posting and fencing requirements in the state.

Keep reading and we will tell you everything you need to know about South Carolina’s trespass laws.

South Carolina Trespassing Law Overview

  • Most kinds of trespassing in South Carolina are misdemeanors, but a few are felonies.
  • Posting your property with signage or in closing it with a fence or wall is a good idea for maximum protection under the law.
  • In most cases, posting your property with signage counts as prior notice against entry to any would-be trespassers. There are specific requirements for posted signage.

What Constitutes Trespassing in South Carolina?

Unlike most states, South Carolina does not have one specific or even broad definition of trespassing, and so it relies on multiple, smaller statutes to define what trespassing is under specific circumstances.

You’ll find quite a few on South Carolina’s law books, so make sure you look up these statutes for yourself.

But, very generally, trespassing can be defined as entering or remaining upon the lands or other property that don’t belong to you without prior authorization from the owner or owner’s agent, or other legal permission.

Trespassing is also a refusal to leave if, having had prior permission or authorization, it is revoked.

Let’s get started by looking at 16-11-610 concerning entry on another’s lands for various purposes without permission:

16-11-610. Entry on another’s lands for various purposes without permission.

Any person entering upon the lands of another for the purpose of hunting, fishing, trapping, netting; for gathering fruit, wild flowers, cultivated flowers, shrubbery, straw, turf, vegetables or herbs; or for cutting timber on such land, without the consent of the owner or manager, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall, for a first offense, be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, for a second offense, be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days and, for a third or subsequent offense, be fined not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months or both. …

Does South Carolina Require “No Trespassing” Signs?

South Carolina does not truly require the posting of no-trespassing signage to protect property, including vacant land, but it is definitely a good idea to put up these signs around your own property.

These signs can qualify more serious cases of trespassing if they are ignored, and they also count as specific prior notice to any would-be trespasser that entry onto your land, for any reason, is forbidden.

Read the following statute, 16-11-600, carefully. Notice how it says that entry on any land belonging to another person after notice from the owner or tenant against said entry is a misdemeanor.

Reading a little further you will see where it says the posting of no-trespassing signage in four conspicuous places on the borders of the land counts as notice for the purposes of this statute.

Read it for yourself below:

16-11-600. Entry on another’s pasture or other lands after notice; posting notice.

Every entry upon the lands of another where any horse, mule, cow, hog or any other livestock is pastured, or any other lands of another, after notice from the owner or tenant prohibiting such entry, shall be a misdemeanor and be punished by a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment with hard labor on the public works of the county for not exceeding thirty days. When any owner or tenant of any lands shall post a notice in four conspicuous places on the borders of such land prohibiting entry thereon, a proof of the posting shall be deemed and taken as notice conclusive against the person making entry, as aforesaid, for the purpose of trespassing.

Is Fencing Required to Protect Property?

No. Fencing is not strictly required to protect property against trespassers but it is an important component of qualifying unlawful entry into enclosed places, described in detail in section 16-11-640.

Essentially, it is unlawful for any person that does not have legal permission or specific authorization to enter upon the lands or then the private property of anyone else between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. if the property is fenced or walled with a closed gate.

There are specific exceptions, including justifiable emergency entry or entry onto premises which are not posted with signage and are unfenced.

Just another good reason to post your property with no-trespassing signage!

16-11-640. Unlawful entry into enclosed places.

It shall be unlawful for any person not an occupant, owner or invitee to enter any private property enclosed by walls or fences with closed gates between the hours of six P.M. and six A.M. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any justifiable emergency entry or to premises which are not posted with clearly visible signs prohibiting trespass upon the enclosed premises. The provisions of this section are supplemental to existing law relating to trespass and punishment therefor. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.

What Other Marks Indicate “No Trespassing”?

None. Unlike some other states, South Carolina does not allow the use of purple paint markings, or any other color of paint markings, to serve as notices against trespassing.

An amendment to 16-11-600 for the purpose was introduced a few years back, but apparently it is still jammed in the Senate.

Can Solicitors Ignore “No Trespassing” Signs?

No, and they definitely cannot ignore fencing if you have a closed gate as described above and one of the previous sections.

The only exemptions are for genuine emergency purposes, or in the case of unfenced and unposted land or other property.

Solicitors who violate this statute can face stiff penalties and even a stint in jail!

Can Trespassing Result in Arrest in South Carolina?

Absolutely. Most forms of trespassing are a misdemeanor in South Carolina, but misdemeanors can still result in arrest and they can result in a jail term.

Keep this in mind if you are out hunting, hiking, camping or doing any other kind of rambling so that you do not accidentally trespass.

Can You Take Someone to Court for Trespassing?

Yes, definitely, especially if someone is a repeat offender, caused damage to fencing, walls, plants, crops, livestock, or any other property that you might have.

Special Instances of Trespassing in South Carolina

There are several special instances of trespassing codified in the statutes of South Carolina, with everything from trespassing in a library to trespassing on certain kinds of state-owned and other public property.

But perhaps one of the most important is found in 16-11-617, which covers illegal entry into another’s land for the purpose of cultivating marijuana.

Simply stated, if you enter someone else’s land and grow 25 marijuana plants you are guilty of a felony and will be facing a fine of up to $5,000 and 5 years in prison.

16-11-617. Entry on another’s land for purpose of cultivating marijuana.

It is unlawful for a person to enter on the land of another for the purpose of cultivating or attempting to cultivate marijuana. The provisions of this section are cumulative to other provisions of law. To constitute a violation of this section, a minimum of twenty-five marijuana plants must be cultivated. A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years and fined not more than five thousand dollars.
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