Michigan: Fast Facts on Trespassing
- Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land
- Crime Class: Misdemeanor or Felony
- Fencing Required?: Yes, if verbal notice to leave not given
- Signage Required?: Yes, if verbal notice to leave not given
- Verbal Notice Required?: Only if farm property is not fenced
Michigan Trespassing Law Overview
Michigan is a generally reasonable state when it comes to trespassing with some easy to understand and easy to follow laws, though their trespassing laws are spread out across several sections in the state statutes.
That being said, it contains very little in the way of surprises though it is perhaps a bit sparse with specific language covering things like posted notices, and just how inclusive the definition of important words like “premises” are.
But aside from that, the relevant statutes are a pretty quick read and easy to understand. Let’s dig in to them below!
Relevant Michigan State Statutes
- Section 750.111 Entering Without Breaking
- Section 750.552 Trespass Upon Lands or Premises of Another; Exception; Violation; Penalty
- Section 750.552a Filth, Garbage or Refuse; Unlawful to Dump, Deposit or Place on Property of Another
- Section 750.552b Trespass Upon Property of State Correctional Facility; Violation as Felony; Penalty
- Section 750.552c Entering or Remaining in Key Facility; Prohibition; “Key Facility” Defined; Posting Signs; Violation as Felony; Penalty
The state of Michigan does not have a relevant section containing definitions for the rest of the chapter and its pertinent sections, so we will jump right into things with section 750.111.
This chapter typically covers things like breaking and entering, but it does have one entry covering entering without breaking, which could be construed as trespassing in the right circumstances.
Considering that this charge carries with it a felony as the penalty, it is definitely worth including And discussing here:
750.111 Entering without breaking.
Any person who, without breaking, enters any dwelling, house, tent, hotel, office, store, shop, warehouse, barn, granary, factory or other building, boat, ship, shipping container, railroad car or structure used or kept for public or private use, or any private apartment therein, with intent to commit a felony or any larceny therein, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $2,500.00.
That is the entirety of the section, very short, to the point, and needing little in the way of explanation.
Obviously, illicitly entering any structure or dwelling is a far cry from accidentally traipsing on to someone else’s land, but in such a case that one were to accidentally do something like that this could be major trouble; you would have to prove that you were not there to commit any other crime that is a felony.
This is a felony charge that can see you spend 5 years in the pokey, or be fined up to $2,500.
The next section is the crux of Michigan’s trespassing laws, and covers trespass upon the lands or premises of another. There are exceptions to this charge, but they are not likely to apply to you or me:
750.552 Trespass upon lands or premises of another; exception; violation; penalty; “process server” defined.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2), a person shall not do any of the following:
(a) Enter the lands or premises of another without lawful authority after having been forbidden to do so by the owner or occupant or the agent of the owner or occupant.
(b) Remain without lawful authority on the land or premises of another after being notified to depart by the owner or occupant or the agent of the owner or occupant.
(c) Enter or remain without lawful authority on fenced or posted farm property of another person without the consent of the owner or his or her lessee or agent. A request to leave the premises is not a necessary element for a violation of this subdivision. This subdivision does not apply to a person who is in the process of attempting, by the most direct route, to contact the owner or his or her lessee or agent to request consent.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a process server who is on the land or premises of another while in the process of attempting, by the most direct route, to serve process upon any of the following:
(a) An owner or occupant of the land or premises.
(b) An agent of the owner or occupant of the land or premises.
(c) A lessee of the land or premises.
(3) A person who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days or by a fine of not more than $250.00, or both.
(4) As used in this section, “process server” means a person authorized under the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.101 to 600.9947, or supreme court rule to serve process.
Okay, there are some nuanced interpretations of the passages above that we need to unpack carefully. Starting out, you may not enter the lands of another person without lawful authority after you have been forbidden from doing so by the owner or an authorized agent of the owner.
This would certainly mean after being notified verbally or in writing, but it could also be interpreted to mean after seeing a posted sign that declares no trespassing allowed on the premises in question. This interpretation is not certain.
You are also trespassing if you remain on that private property after being told to leave. And last, if you enter or remain on any posted or fenced-off farm property without the explicit permission of the owner you are trespassing. The only exceptions apply to the owner, the owner’s agents or anyone who is working in the official capacity of a notice server.
The next section, 750.552a is in the chapter containing the bulk of the trespassing laws and covers the dumping of garbage or waste on another’s property without permission:
Section 750.552a Filth, Garbage or Refuse; Unlawful to Dump, Deposit or Place on Property of Another.
Any person who shall dump, deposit or place any filth, garbage or refuse on the grounds or premises of another, without the specific permission of the owner thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Nothing to it. Do not ever dump your garbage, filth or refuse on anyone else’s property unless you have explicit permission. Doing so otherwise is a misdemeanor.
Note that it makes no special mention about what kinds of garbage or waste are okay to dump on private property during any other time even if you do indeed have permission, so make sure you double-check all the other relevant laws in the state of Michigan before dumping anything anywhere.
Next up is trespass upon state correctional facilities, a felony. Covered in 750.552b just below:
750.552b Trespass upon property of state correctional facility; violation as felony; penalty; “state correctional facility” defined.
(1) A person who willfully trespasses by entering or remaining upon the property of a state correctional facility without authority or permission to enter or remain is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
(2) As used in this section, “state correctional facility” means a facility or institution that houses a prisoner population under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections. State correctional facility does not include a community corrections center or a community residential home.
I am not sure why one would want to illicitly enter a state correctional facility unless you were trying to break someone out of one, but in case you do enter or stay on the grounds of one without the proper authority or permission, you’re guilty of a felony that is punishable by a stint of up to 4 years in prison, a $2,000 fine, or both.
Hilariously you might go to prison for trying to illegally break into a prison!
Now on to the next section which covers trespassing on or in what are known in Michigan as “key facilities,” usually important infrastructure sites or industrial installations:
750.552c Entering or remaining in key facility; prohibition; “key facility” defined; posting signs; violation as felony; penalty; scope of section.
(1) A person shall not intentionally and without authority or permission enter or remain in or upon premises or a structure belonging to another person that is a key facility if the key facility is completely enclosed by a physical barrier of any kind, including, but not limited to, a significant water barrier that prevents pedestrian access, and is posted with signage as prescribed under subsection (2). As used in this subsection, “key facility” means 1 or more of the following:
(a) A chemical manufacturing facility.
(b) A refinery.
(c) An electric utility facility, including, but not limited to, a power plant, a power generation facility peaker, an electric transmission facility, an electric station or substation, or any other facility used to support the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity. Electric utility facility does not include electric transmission land or right-of-way that is not completely enclosed, posted, and maintained by the electric utility.
(d) A water intake structure or water treatment facility.
(e) A natural gas utility facility, including, but not limited to, an age station, compressor station, odorization facility, main line valve, natural gas storage facility, or any other facility used to support the acquisition, transmission, distribution, or storage of natural gas. Natural gas utility facility does not include gas transmission pipeline property that is not completely enclosed, posted, and maintained by the natural gas utility.
(f) Gasoline, propane, liquid natural gas (LNG), or other fuel terminal or storage facility.
(g) A transportation facility, including, but not limited to, a port, railroad switching yard, or trucking terminal.
(h) A pulp or paper manufacturing facility.
(i) A pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.
(j) A hazardous waste storage, treatment, or disposal facility.
(k) A telecommunication facility, including, but not limited to, a central office or cellular telephone tower site.
(l) A facility substantially similar to a facility, structure, or station listed in subdivisions (a) to (k) or a resource required to submit a risk management plan under 42 USC 7412(r).
(2) A key facility shall be posted in a conspicuous manner against entry. The minimum letter height on the posting signs shall be 1 inch. Each posting sign shall be not less than 50 square inches, and the signs shall be spaced to enable a person to observe not less than 1 sign at any point of entry upon the property.
(3) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 4 years or a fine of not more than $2,500.00, or both.
(4) This section does not prohibit and shall be not construed to prevent lawful assembly or a peaceful and orderly petition for the redress of grievances, including, but not limited to, a labor dispute between an employer and its employees.
Entering any key facility named on the list above that is fenced and posted accordingly is trespassing on the premises of a key facility, a felony charge and one that will get you up to four years in jail, a $2,500 fine or both.
Make sure you have authorization before entering any such facility, and if you don’t stay well away from them; even crossing onto their grounds constitutes being on the premises and can get you charged accordingly!
Michigan’s trespassing laws are easy to understand even for laymen not particularly well-versed in legal language.
The sections are generally short, and aside from a lack of detail regarding posted signage and a specific definition of “premises” that encompasses all types of property included in a legal definition, you won’t run into too many surprises in Michigan when it comes to trespass law.