When you find yourself where you do NOT belong


Trespass is a crime against the property of another. Massachusetts codified chapter 266, section 120 making it illegal to enter or remain on the private property of another after being warned that you were not welcome. The statute says;

"Whoever, without right enters or remains in or upon the dwelling house, buildings, boats or improved or enclosed land...of another after having been forbidden so to do by the person who has lawful control of said premises, whether directly or by notice posted thereon, or in violation of a court order...shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or both such fine and imprisonment."

The statute lays out two elements that the government needs to prove.

First: That the defendant entered or remained (in a dwelling house) (in a building) (on a boat) (on improved or enclosed land) of another, without having a right to be there; and

Second: That the defendant was forbidden to enter or to remain there by the person in lawful control of the premises, either directly or by means of a posted notice.

This means that a person commits a trespass is they remains after having been asked to leave, or if there is notices posted on the property. It is important to know that the prosecutor does not have to prove that you actually saw the posted signs, but merely that the property owner posted a reasonably distinct notice and that notice was in a reasonable place for a trespasser to see it.


Punishment for Trespass

Trespass is a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail or a $100 fine. Usually a trespassing case would resolve with a short term of probation where the defendant would need to stay away from the place they trespassed. More serious punishments can be appropriate if there was a history of criminal activity or a restraining order in place between the parties.


Defenses to Trespass

First, trespass charges do not generally apply to tenants. Once a tenancy begins the tenant has a legal right to be at the property until the tenancy has ended. This includes a holdover tenant. In order to remove a tenant from a property, the landlord must seek remedies in civil court - they cannot try and charge a tenant with trespass.

Other defenses include a person having some other legal right to be present, or not having reasonable notice they were trespassing. These types of defenses can become very fact specific and require a capable attorney to assert and argue them properly.

The attorneys at Equitas Law are trespass experts and can get the best results for your case. If you are facing a trespassing charge in MA, call us today for a free consultation at (617) 723-4163.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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