(Vicontiel) Writ of Trespass – Wrongful Entry on Another’s Real Property

    At least one of the following two elements are required in order to prove (prosecute) a criminal trespass”:

  • that the land was posted (i.e. with a sign).

  • the [alleged trespasser] was asked by an authorized person to leave. [1]

n. (13c.)

1. An unlawful act committed against the person or property of another; especially, wrongful entry on another’s real property.

2. At common law, a lawsuit for injuries resulting from an unlawful act of this kind.  The lawsuit was instituted by a writ of trespass.

3. Archaic. MISDEMEANOR. — trespass, vb. — trespassory, adj. [2]

unlawful entry:

1. The crime of intentionally entering another’s real property, by fraud or other illegal means, without the owner’s consent.

    The following is an excerpt from P.H. Winfield’s A Textbook of the Law of Torts:

  “The familiar legend on notice-boards, ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’, implies that it is a crime, but this may usually be dismissed as ‘a wooden lie’. Yet in time past the idea was correct, for trespass of any sort was punishable by fine & imprisonment as well as redressible by an action for damages, & actually it was not until 1694 that the punitive element disappeared although it had faded into obsolescence long before that date. But nowadays trespass is never criminal except under special statutes which make it punishable…” [3]

    The following is an excerpt form R.F.V. Heuston’s Salmond on the Law of Torts:

     “The term trespass has been used by lawyers & laymen in three senses of varying degrees of generality. (1) In its widest & original signification it includes any wrongful act — any infringement or transgression of the rule of right. The use is common in the Authorized Version of the Bible, & was presumably familiar when that version was first published. But it never obtained recognition in the technical language of the law, & is now archaic even in popular speech. (2) In a second & narrower signification — its true legal sense — the term means any legal wrong for which the appropriate remedy was a writ of trespass — viz. The tort of trespass to land (trespass quare clausum fregit).” [4]

     The following is an excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law:

    “Before the word ‘misdemeanor’ became well established the wold writers tended to use the word ‘trespass’ to indicate an offense below the grade of felony. & int was used at times by Blackstone for this purpose, as in the phrase ‘treason, felony, or trespass’.” [5]


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[1]: Bismarck Tribune, “Judge dismisses trespass cases midway through trial” by CAROLINE GRUESKIN Feb 17, 2017: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/judge-dismisses-trespass-cases-midway-through-trial/article_16da2eec-2df7-5249-9610-24082d5e34b2.html

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[3]: P.H. Winfield’s A Textbook of the Law of Torts § 90, at 307 (5th ed. 1950)

[4]: R.F.V. Heuston’s Salmond on the Law of Torts 4 (17th ed. 1982)

[5]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law 405 (3d ed. 1982)


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