What do you do when an unruly party guest gets out of hand? Well, you ask them to leave of course, but what if they just won’t leave? What if someone shows up to your property uninvited? What can you do to make them leave? These people are trespassers, and Virginia law protects your property rights by allowing you to decide who is and is not allowed on your property.
If they are a trespasser, Virginia law allows you to eject them. Now, let’s discuss who might become a trespasser and what you can do legally to eject them.
Who Is A Trespasser?
You may eject an unwanted person from your property even if they were previously an invited guest. An invited guest is not a co-owner or someone with an equal right to occupy the space with you.
Instead, an invited guest is someone more like a friend, acquaintance, or relative who has come to visit and now will not leave. This unruly friend or extended family member becomes a trespasser when they refuse to leave after you have given them notice that they are no longer welcome. In Virginia, a landowner has the right to order a trespasser to leave his or her property, and if the trespasser refuses to leave, then the landowner may use force, although not deadly force, on that trespasser in a manner solely intended to expel that person from the property.
Better Course Of Action: Call The Police
The landowner cannot commit an assault and battery or brandish a firearm for the purposes of expelling the trespasser. Sometimes a better course of action may be to contact the authorities to have the trespasser removed.
Now, what about an uninvited person? Uninvited guests can range from someone completely innocent such as a neighborhood kid retrieving their ball from your yard to someone a bit more concerning like a person sneaking around your property at night.
Does the law let a landowner use more force on an uninvited person who does not have permission to be there? They do not. In Virginia, the landowner is only permitted to use force, and again not deadly force, on the trespasser in a proper manner solely to expel the trespasser from the property. Again, a better course of action may be to simply contact the police and let them deal with the trespasser. Keep in mind, facts can change based on the trespasser’s actions.
Trespassing Turns Deadly
It is worth mentioning that a landowner’s encounter with a trespasser can escalate if the trespasser were to react by attacking the landowner or by doing something such as attempting to break into your home. In this case, it is crucial that you understand that you would no longer be defending your property at this point but would now be engaged in either self-defense or the defense of others.
Call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney if you have any other questions about this issue.