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0 Comments | Sep 24, 2018

What You Need to Know about Idaho’s New No Trespassing Law

Private Property No Trespassing Sign

On July 1, Idaho’s updated trespass law went into effect and it’s already causing a massive headache for law enforcement and outdoor enthusiasts.

After much controversy, the law now stiffens penalties for criminal and civil trespassing. It also makes it easier for landowners to pursue charges or lawsuits against violators.

If you live in Idaho, here are two things you really ought to know:

Increased Penalties for Trespassers

Prior to the updated law, first time criminal trespassing offenders faced a $50 fine if they didn’t cause damage and left the property when requested. Now, however, the same infraction comes with a $300 fine.

Meanwhile, criminal trespass carries a $500 to $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, a second offense can net violators a $1,500 to $3,000 fine, and, if found guilty of a third offense, it can grow to a felony charge with one to five years in jail and fines of $15,000 to $50,000. Finally, criminal trespassing connected to hunting, fishing, or trapping is an automatic one-year suspension of Idaho Fish and Game licenses.

Broadens Landowner Rights and Limits Obligations

Previously, the law required that landowners place No Trespassing Signs or orange paint every 660 feet. Now, however, land must be marked at the corners of fence lines and at “boundaries that intersect navigable streams, roads, gates, and right of way.”

Interestingly, the law now allows landowners to bring civil suits against individuals who may have trespassed on their property. The emphasized part is of particular note, because a trespasser no longer needs to be caught in the act.

While some groups are exempt from the law, such as emergency responders and those who knock on doors (i.e. utility workers, door-to-door salespeople, etc.), it really targets outdoor enthusiasts. Since a property now only needs signs that are posted in very specific locations, many hikers are going to unknowingly trespass. With that being said, people aren’t going to become criminals because they innocently wandered onto private land.

The fear, however, is when the private property laws are coupled with Idaho’s new “stand your ground” law. The latter of which permits individuals to use deadly force while defending their property or place of work. The two of them together may spell disaster and increase violent confrontations.

While it’s ultimately up to local law enforcement agencies to determine how to enforce the new law, some of the issues may need to be hashed out in court first.