Like many people, you may think trespassing is not too big of a deal, especially if you are younger or enjoy the activity known as urban exploring. However, you and other West Virginia residents should understand that entering private or commercial property without permission, or remaining on the property after being asked to leave by someone legally in charge of the property, can result in long-lasting criminal repercussions.

Exactly how bad is trespassing, you may wonder? According to FindLaw, most instances of trespassing in West Virginia are considered misdemeanor offenses with varying degrees of severity. For example, the following consequences can apply:

  • You can get a fine of up to $500 for a first conviction of trespassing.
  • A second or third offense come with more serious charges of $1,000 to $1,500 in fines.
  • Jail terms can apply if trespassing results in damage to property, crops or livestock.
  • More serious charges apply if the alleged trespasser carries a weapon with intent to harm another person.

What if you did not intend to break any laws or didn’t know that your actions are considered trespassing? For example, many people who explore abandoned buildings don’t realize that being on the property may be considered trespassing. Others might not realize the area they are crossing for a shortcut could part of someone’s backyard or farmland. In these instances, you may be able to argue that you meant no harm and didn’t know you were doing anything wrong. Regardless of your intent, you are entitled to a competent defense. Therefore, this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.