Trespassing is generally viewed as a minor offense. However, Oklahoma does not pass off trespassing lightly. Convicted of trespassing in Oklahoma can mean fines and even jail terms.
People value their privacy and violating privacy in any form cannot be taken lightly. Oklahoma laws augment these sensitivities and have come out with penalties that can land you in jail. Every state has its own laws tailor-made for its own demography and Oklahoma is no different. The topography of the state is a mixture of mountain ranges, prairie, mesas, and forests. And therefore, people own large pieces of land and property as most of them are involved in some sort of farming or the other.
Oklahoma prescribes erecting signs such as PROPERTY RESTRICTED, KEEP OUT and NO TRESPASSING on a property at strategic places of entry to dissuade people from entering the premises.
Trespassing on Property with No Signage:
Some areas need not have signage that warns people from trespassing. Thus, engaging in activities on private property that are otherwise off-limits to the public even if there are no signs can attract strict punishment.
For example, entering a Pecan Grove without permission can get you into a lot of trouble with the law. Another example of trespassing into the property without signage would be an attempt to collect firewood from a seldom-used field. Collecting wood either standing or just lying around can be considered a trespass in Oklahoma laws. Taking any produce from the private property also amounts to trespass.
Section 1835.2 of the Oklahoma Code States the Following:
- Anyone who willfully enters private land or property used as a ranch, farm or forest without the permission of the lawful occupant or owner will be deemed as trespassing and if found guilty in a court of law will be fined an amount ranging from five hundred dollars ($500) to one thousand five hundred dollars ($1000). The court also reserves the right to order restitution for the same.
Anyone found guilty of trespassing a subsequent second time will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will have to face of penalty ranging from one thousand five hundred dollars ($1500) to two thousand five hundred dollars ($2500). The penalty also carries with it an imprisonment sentence in a county jail for anywhere between thirty days and six months. In this case, too, the court can order restitution for all damages incurred.
- Trespassing, however, does not apply to federal, state or local government personnel who must enter private property to engage in their duty if need be. Other personnel who can exercise their right to enter the private property are firefighters, emergency medics and public utility employees.
- Persons such as surveyors and registered professional engineers can enter land for purposes of surveying the area and collecting data. People working to conduct a poll or who works on behalf of a political office can enter a private property provided his or her reasons are legitimate.
- Anyone, willfully entering private property and attempts to commit theft, damage or waste property within the land shall be charged with a misdemeanor and if convicted will have to pay a penalty ranging from two hundred and fifty dollars ($250) to five hundred dollars ($500). The court may also order confinement in a county jail for a period of 30 days to 6 months. This may include a restitution order after estimating the damages incurred.
Defense to the Charges:
If an accused believes beyond doubt that he or she was on the property with permission from the owner or the lawful occupant written or verbal, this can act as a strong reason by which he or she could be acquitted.