Mississippi Trespassing Laws: What You Need to Know

https://www.survivalsullivan.com/mississippi-trespassing-laws/

Mississippi: Fast Facts on Trespassing

  • Trespass Law Covers: Buildings, Dwellings, Land
  • Crime Class: Misdemeanor or Felony
  • Fencing Required?: Only for certain types of property and crime.
  • Signage Required?: No, but counts as notice to trespassers.
  • Verbal Notice Required?: No, but might matter for notification.

Mississippi Trespassing Law Overview

Mississippi is a state with generally well-organized and easy-to-follow laws on trespassing. Most specific situations are covered in their own separate sections, easy to reference and easy to understand.

Of note, is that a few specific kinds of trespassing will result in felony charges complete with hefty fines and lengthy prison terms. This is generally only reserved for wanton trespass on high-security facilities; simple trespass upon land or within buildings is usually just a misdemeanor grade charge.

Also noteworthy, Mississippi does not require the posting of signage to warn potential trespassers but it does count as notice that trespassing is forbidden for certain statutes. Mississippi trespassing laws are generally simple and make sense, which is more than can be said for some states.

Relevant Mississippi State Statutes

  • 97-17-85. Trespass; going upon inclosed land of another
  • 97-17-87. Trespass; willful or malicious; penalty; enhanced penalties for willful trespass upon airport operations area
  • 97-17-89. Trespass; destruction or carrying away of vegetation, etc. not amounting to larceny
  • 97-17-91. Trespass; defacing, altering or destroying notices posted on land
  • 97-17-93. Entering lands of another without permission; enforcement; relation to other statutes; dismissal of prosecution
  • 97-17-95. Trespass; entry on premises where atomic machinery, rockets and other dangerous devices are manufactured, etc
  • 97-17-97. Trespass; going into or upon, or remaining in or upon, buildings, premises or lands of another after being forbidden to do so
  • 97-17-99. Trespass; inciting or soliciting etc., persons to go into or upon, or remain in or upon, buildings, premises or lands of another
  • 97-17-103. Prohibition of recovery for injuries sustained during criminal trespass

Mississippi helpfully breaks its various statutes up into bite-size sections so you can easily look up what you need to know about a specific type of property or specific charge. It does not have, however, a section on definitions.

This means that any pertinent definition will be found inside their respective sections, or if such definitions are lacking it is assumed to have its common and / or legal meaning.

We will begin in 97-17-85 which covers trespassing upon the enclosed land of another person:

97-17-85. Trespass; going upon inclosed land of another.

Except as otherwise provided in Section 73-13-103, if any person shall go upon the enclosed land of another without his consent, after having been notified by such person or his agent not to do so, either personally or by published or posted notice, or shall remain on such land after a request by such person or his agent to depart, he shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for such offense. The provisions of this section shall apply to land not enclosed where the stock law is in force.

There is not much more to it than that. If you have been notified directly by the owner of the land or they have posted a no-trespassing notice around the perimeter of their land and you go upon that land or remain there after being told to depart you can be fined up to $50 upon conviction. No time in jail.

The next section covers willful and malicious trespassing:

97-17-87. Trespass; willful or malicious; penalty; enhanced penalties for willful trespass upon airport operations area.

(1) Any person who shall be guilty of a willful or malicious trespass upon the real or personal property of another, for which no other penalty is prescribed, shall, upon conviction, be fined not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or imprisoned not longer than six (6) months in the county jail, or both.

(2)

(a) Any person who shall willfully trespass upon any air operations area or sterile area of an airport serving the general public shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisoned in the county jail for up to one (1) year, or both.

(b) For the purposes of this subsection (2), “air operations area” means a portion of an airport designed and used for landing, taking off, or surface maneuvering of airplanes; “sterile area” means an area to which access is controlled by the inspection of persons and property in accordance with an approved security program.

If you are to blatantly and willfully trespass upon someone’s land or property you may be charged up to $500 in fines and in prison for up to six months in the county jail or both.

Trespassing in any way within the air operations or sterile (meaning post security checkpoint) area of any public airport is also a misdemeanor but one that will net you a serious thousand-dollar fine and up to one year in jail or both.

Like several other Southern states, Mississippi has a trespass law that covers the destruction or carrying away of vegetation and fruit. read all about this specific type of trespassing in 97-17-89:

97-17-89. Trespass; destruction or carrying away of vegetation, etc. not amounting to larceny.

Any person who shall enter upon the closed or unenclosed lands of another or of the public and who shall willfully and wantonly gather and unlawfully sever, destroy, carry away or injure any trees, shrubs, flowers, moss, grain, turf, grass, hay, fruits, nuts or vegetables thereon, where such action shall not amount to larceny, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00), or be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months in the county jail, or both; and a verdict of guilty of such action may be rendered under an indictment for larceny, if the evidence shall not warrant a verdict of guilty of larceny, but shall warrant a conviction under this section.

If you should enter upon the lands of any other person, be they fenced or unfenced, and destroy or gather and carry away any plant life of any kind growing thereon you are guilty of misdemeanor trespass and destruction or carrying away of vegetation. This is a misdemeanor that carries with it a $500 fine, a six-month stint in the county jail or both!

As you might have guessed and should have already known, it is illegal to deface, alter, remove or otherwise destroy any no-trespassing notices posted on any land:

97-17-91. Trespass; defacing, altering or destroying notices posted on land.

Any person who shall deface, remove, alter or destroy any notice placed upon any lands by the owner thereof or his agent posting or otherwise prohibiting the entrance upon any lands in this state shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for each such notice defaced, removed, altered or destroyed.

Each such notice you deface, remove or destroy will upon conviction see you serve with a $50 fine per each sign mistreated so.

The next section is one that supplements other trespassing sections and specifically relates to entering the lands of another person without their permission and related enforcement statutes:

97-17-93. Entering lands of another without permission; enforcement; relation to other statutes; dismissal of prosecution.

(1) Any person who knowingly enters the lands of another without the permission of or without being accompanied by the landowner or the lessee of the land, or the agent of such landowner or lessee, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished for the first offense by a fine of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00). Upon conviction of any person for a second or subsequent offense, the offenses being committed within five (5) years of the last offense, such person shall be punished by a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), and may be imprisoned in the county jail for a period of not less than ten (10) nor more than thirty (30) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. This section shall not apply to the landowner’s or lessee’s family, guests, or agents, to a surveyor as provided in Section 73-13-103, or to persons entering upon such lands for lawful business purposes.

(2)

(a) It shall be the duty of sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, constables and conservation officers to enforce this section.

(b) Such officers shall enforce this section by issuing a citation to those charged with trespassing under this section.

(3) The provisions of this section are supplementary to the provisions of any other statute of this state.

(4) A prosecution under the provisions of this section shall be dismissed upon the request of the landowner, lessee of the land or agent of such landowner or lessee, as the case may be.

Initial transgressions against this statue carry with them a $250 fine. Subsequent transgressions committed within five years of the first carry with it a $500 fine and a stint in the county jail anywhere from 10 to 30 days.

Now we move on to the main event at least as far as trespassing is concerned in the state of Mississippi. Trespassing upon any premises were atomic machinery, rockets or dangerous devices are manufactured or serviced is a serious crime:

97-17-95. Trespass; entry on premises where atomic machinery, rockets and other dangerous devices are manufactured, etc.

It shall be unlawful for any person to wilfully enter or trespass within the premises of any person, firm or corporation manufacturing or constructing or erecting or assembling or maintaining or repairing or operating any nuclear powered machinery, equipment or vessels, or rockets, missiles, propulsion systems, explosives or other dangerous devices, or parts thereof, with the intent to commit any crime under the laws of this state, or of the United States, or pursuant to a conspiracy to commit any such crime or in an attempt to commit any such crime.

Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be adjudged guilty of a felony, and punished by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary not to exceed five (5) years, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. Any person wilfully entering or trespassing within such premises, if found within any area designated as a restricted area therein, shall be guilty of a violation of this section.

So long as you are trespassing with the intent to commit any crime on the listed properties, and are caught you’ll be charged with a felony and punished with a $5,000 fine or a five-year stay in prison or both.

Pay close attention to the end of the section; if you are caught trespassing within any restricted area on any property so designated you will be guilty of a violation of this section! No messing around. You have been warned!

Next, for those habitual trespassers section 97-17-97 covers trespass in or upon the buildings were premises or lands on another person after being previously forbidden from doing so:

97-17-97. Trespass; going into or upon, or remaining in or upon, buildings, premises or lands of another after being forbidden to do so.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in Section 73-13-103, if any person or persons shall without authority of law go into or upon or remain in or upon any building, premises or land of another, including the premises of any public housing authority after having been banned from returning to the premises of the housing authority, whether an individual, a corporation, partnership, or association, or any part, portion or area thereof, after having been forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing including any sign hereinafter mentioned, by any owner, or lessee, or custodian, or other authorized person, or by the administrators of a public housing authority regardless of whether or not having been invited onto the premises of the housing authority by a tenant, or after having been forbidden to do so by such sign or signs posted on, or in such building, premises or land, or part, or portion, or area thereof, at a place or places where such sign or signs may be reasonably seen, such person or persons shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by confinement in the county jail not exceeding six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(2) The provisions of this section are supplementary to the provisions of any other statute of this state.

Regardless of the circumstances and any standing previous relationship, once a person has been specifically and lawfully forbidden from entering or returning to any premises, even if they are specifically forbidden by a sign, any person who chooses to do so is guilty of trespassing, and will be charged with a misdemeanor with an associated penalty of $500 or confinement in the county jail for up to six months or both.

Note that paragraph two specifically states this is supplementary to any other provisions of any other statute in the state.

The next section covers trespass by way of soliciting or inciting someone else to trespass in your stead:

97-17-99. Trespass; inciting or soliciting etc., persons to go into or upon, or remain in or upon, buildings, premises or lands of another.

(1) If any person or persons shall incite, or solicit, or urge, or encourage, or exhort, or instigate, or procure any other person or persons to go into or upon or to remain in or upon any building, or premises, or land of another whether an individual, a corporation, partnership, or association, or any part, portion or area thereof, knowing such other person or persons to have been forbidden, either orally or in writing including any sign hereinafter mentioned, to do so by any owner, or lessee, or custodian, or other authorized person, or knowing such other person or persons to have been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted in or upon such building, or premises, or land, or part, or portion thereof, at a place or places where it or they may be reasonably seen, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) or by confinement in the county jail not exceeding six (6) months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(2) The provisions of this section are supplementary to the provisions of any other statute of this state.

Once again, if you have been specifically forbidden from entering or remaining upon any premises that has the force of law and you enlist someone to go in your stead on to those premises you are still committing misdemeanor trespass and will face the same $500 fine, imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months or both.

The last section covers the prohibition of a trespasser who is injured while trespassing from seeking any recompense from the owner of the property being trespasses upon:

97-17-103. Prohibition of recovery for injuries sustained during criminal trespass.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Perpetrator” means a person who has engaged in criminal trespass and includes a person convicted of trespass under applicable state law;

(b) “Victim” means a person who was the object of another’s criminal trespass and includes a person at the scene of an emergency who gives reasonable assistance to another person who is exposed to or has suffered grave physical harm;

(c) “Course of criminal conduct” includes the acts or omissions of a victim in resisting criminal conduct;

(d) “Convicted” includes a finding of guilt, whether or not the adjudication of guilt is stayed or executed, an unwithdrawn judicial admission of guilt or guilty plea, a no contest plea, a judgment of conviction, an adjudication as a delinquent child, an admission to a juvenile delinquency petition, or a disposition as an extended jurisdiction juvenile; and

(e) “Trespass” means an offense named in Sections 97-17-1 through 97-17-97, Mississippi Code of 1972, or any attempt to commit any of these offenses. Trespass includes crimes in other states or jurisdictions which would have been within the definition set forth in this subdivision if they had been committed in this state.

(2) A perpetrator assumes the risk of loss, injury or death resulting from or arising out of a course of criminal trespass, as defined in this section, engaged in by the perpetrator or an accomplice, and the crime victim is immune from and not liable for any civil damages as a result of acts or omissions of the victim.

(3) Notwithstanding other evidence which the victim may adduce relating to the perpetrator’s conviction of the crime involving the parties to the civil action, a certified copy of a guilty plea, a court judgment of guilt, a court record of conviction or an adjudication as a delinquent child is conclusive proof of the perpetrator’s assumption of the risk.

(4) In a civil action that is subject to this section, the court shall award reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees and disbursements, to the prevailing party.

(5) Except to the extent needed to preserve evidence, any civil action in which the defense set forth in subsection (2) is raised shall be stayed by the court on the motion of the defendant during the pendency of any criminal action against the plaintiff based on the alleged trespass.

Plainly stated any person who trespasses, is charged with trespassing and found guilty is adjudged to have assumed all risk and liability during that criminal trespass.

The victim, that is a person whose property was trespassed upon, is in no way liable for what happens to that trespasser during their trespass. Fin. The end.

Mississippi instituted this statute in response to a slew of ambulance-chasing criminals who deliberately trespassed upon people’s property or within their houses and got themselves injured in the course of their crimes seeking damages arising from liability.

This is of course complete bullcrap, and Mississippi should be congratulated for decisively putting an end to this in the confines of their state.

Conclusion

Mississippi’s state laws covering trespassing are easy to read, well-organized and intelligently written, making it one of the best states for property owners who want to protect their land and holdings against tricky trespassers.

Particularly notable within the confines of the law on trespassing is an entire statute that prevents trespassers from seeking damages in case they are injured while they are trespassing on someone else’s land and also a conspicuous lack of language covering vehicles. Aside from that, no surprises in Mississippi’s laws on trespassing.

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