• Paul Goeringer

Frequently Asked Questions: Hanging No Trespassing Signs

Updated: Jul 9


Hay bale on a field (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

This post should not be construed as legal advice.


Hanging a “No Trespassing” sign is a good way to put the public on notice that your property is private and trespassers are not welcome. But how many “No Trespassing” signs should you hang? Is one enough? Two? Three? Or how many exactly should you hang? This is a question many of you ask me periodically. Let’s first talk about how many signs you should hang on your property.


Two cows on a field (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

To start with, a trespasser is a person who enters your farmland without your consent and remains without your consent. For example, Charlie is hunting on your neighbor’s property, inadvertently gets onto your property, and continues to hunt there. Charlie would be a trespasser in this case because he entered your property and remained there without your consent. Charlie may have committed one of two types of trespass recognized in Maryland: 1) criminal trespass and 2) civil trespass.

Sign that says What Part of No Trespassing Don't You Understand (Source Wikicommons).

Criminal trespass is when the property is clearly posted with no trespassing signs that can be reasonably seen (Md. Crim. Law Code Ann. § 6-402(a)(1)) or according to Department of Natural Resources regulations that allow for a paint mark indicating no trespassing to be used on trees (Md. Nat. Res. Code Ann. § 6-402(a)(2)). So how many signs should you hang? To answer that question, first walk the property. Decide on areas that will allow a sign to be clearly seen (not hidden) in multiple directions if possible. One good spot to start is with all road entrances to the property. Potentially, a trespasser would utilize a road entrance and this would put them on notice not to enter the property. If the property adjoins other property, consider locations on the property line that will make signs visible. If the property has water access, then consider areas along the water where parties could enter the property. Finally, consider hanging extra signs along public roadways (even though you may have covered the entrances to the property).


After you have walked the property and considered how many signs you need, then hang signs in those locations. Make sure the signs are visible and readable from the road, property lines, and points of water access. So how many signs is that exactly? Good question. It is going to depend on how you answered the above questions. To better aid you in this process, here is a checklist that you may find helpful to carry around with you. It will require more than 1 sign, but putting signs in multiple locations will help put the public on notice not to trespass on your property.


Sign in front of field that says No Trespassing Violators Will Be Proescuted (Photo by Rutebega Source Wikicommons).

What happens if someone is not paying attention or deliberately disregards the “No Trespassing” signs? Then this person would be a criminal trespasser under Maryland law. The penalty according to the statute for the first violation is up 90 days in prison, up to a $500 dollar fine, or both (§ 6-402(b)). A second violation within 2 years of the first violation calls for up to 6 months in prison, a fine up to $1,000, or both. For any additional violation within 2 years of the second violation, then possible time in prison jumps to 1 year, a fine up to $2,500, or both.

What happens if someone is not paying attention or deliberately disregards the “No Trespassing” signs? Then this person would be a criminal trespasser under Maryland law. The penalty according to the statute for the first violation is up 90 days in prison, up to a $500 dollar fine, or both (§ 6-402(b)). A second violation within 2 years of the first violation calls for up to 6 months in prison, a fine up to $1,000, or both. For any additional violation within 2 years of the second violation, then possible time in prison jumps to 1 year, a fine up to $2,500, or both.

When it comes to trespassers, never attempt to arrest trespassers yourself (for more information, see Can I Make a Citizen’s Arrest?). Call local law enforcement to make these arrests for you, for both your and the public’s safety. Let trained officials handle making this arrest.

In the end, there is no correct answer the question of how many “No Trespassing” signs to hang. The answer will always depend on the property and conditions around the property. One thing that is clear is that it will typically take more than one sign. Finally, if you have signs posted around the property and see trespassers, always report them to local law enforcement to make an arrest.


Sign that says $1000 Reward.

Update: I’ve been told that Maryland Farm Bureau members can receive this sign (see photo) free of charge to post on their property. The sign is meant to deter property theft, malicious injury, and arson on the property. This would be a good sign for Farm Bureau members to consider posting.


#frequentlyaskedquestions #landownerliability #notrespassingsigns #trespass

2 views

COPYRIGHT © 2014 - 2020.  BEFORE REPOSTING ANY ARTICLE, LOOK AT OUR REPOSTING POLICY, SEE ABOUT PAGE.

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact lgoering@umd.edu