DENVER (KDVR) — While you might know the general idea of what trespassing is, you may not know the specifics and what might happen if you do it.
Colorado’s laws against trespassing are fairly broad, but essentially, trespassing is unlawfully and knowingly entering or remaining on someone’s property without their consent.
What is considered trespassing in Colorado?
What is considered trespassing can range from staying in a hotel lobby after being told to leave to ignoring a fence on someone’s property and entering anyway.
There are three different levels of severity of criminal trespass in the state. First-degree criminal trespassing is the most severe and third-degree criminal trespassing is the least.
When it comes to property, third- and second-degree criminal trespass are both considered petty offenses, so the maximum sentence you can face if convicted is six months in state prison and/or a $500 fine.
The law does specify a few cases where the punishment could be more severe, like trespassing in a vehicle or trespassing on agricultural land in order to commit a felony.
Also, if you trespass into someone’s home, it’s considered first-degree criminal trespass and is a misdemeanor, which can be punished with up to 18 months in state prison and/or a $5,000 fine. And, if someone is in the home at the time, it’s considered a felony.
Is hiking on private land considered trespassing?
Broadly, if the owner does not explicitly consent for hikers to enter, no.
So, if you know that it is private property and you aren’t given consent to hike on the land, it is considered trespassing.
And, if you didn’t know but are later told to leave by the owner, you need to leave or else it could be considered criminal trespassing.
The peaks of a number of Colorado fourteeners — mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation — are on private property, and access to those peaks has become a lot more restricted over liability fears from landowners. Some landowners closed access altogether.
Do people have to respect ‘no trespassing’ signs?
While there is nothing in Colorado law that specifically requires “private property” or “no trespassing” signs on someone’s property for entering to be criminal trespassing, some municipalities do specify that these signs need to be respected.
For example, in Denver, if there are signs up on a property that make it clear that entering is forbidden, it is assumed that an owner does not consent to anyone entering it. So, at that point, entering would be considered unlawful.
However, the signs do have to be “conspicuous,” which essentially means they need to be a certain size and placed somewhere obvious where people can actually see them.
Fort Collins has a similar ordinance specifically aimed against door-to-door solicitation. If someone has a “no trespassing” or “no solicitation” sign on their property, commercial and non-commercial solicitors are not allowed to disregard it.
Various other cities also have ordinances that make disregarding “no trespassing” signs unlawful.