Trespassing is generally defined as the act of being on a property without permission. Every state defines trespassing and its consequences differently; however, Tennessee law is clear when it comes to the rights of property owners. In Tennessee Codes Annotated Law (T.C.A.) § 39-14-405, trespassing is defined as someone “who, knowing the person does not have the owner’s effective consent to do so, enters or remains on property, or a portion thereof." In Tennessee, a "No Trespassing" sign is sufficient to show that consent to enter your property is not given.
Read More: How to File a Trespassing Restraining Order
Post "No Trespassing" signs every 100 yards on the barrier of your property. Signs must be visible from the outside of your property and not obstructed by shrubbery or trees. Post your signs at least 3 feet from the ground (to a fence in a secure manner is a good idea). Signs should be easy to read and at least contain the phrase "No Trespassing." Some signs that are available will contain a more in-depth explanation; however, this is not legally necessary. These signs can be purchased at your local hardware store or online.
File an initial complaint by reporting any trespassers to your local police station. If trespassers damage your property (for example, cut your fence to enter the property), photograph all damage that occurred. This will serve as evidence during a criminal trial if you decide to press criminal charges. Trespassing is a class C misdemeanor in Tennessee and is therefore punishable by a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail.
Press charges against the trespasser after filing your initial complaint to the police. This will help to prevent trespassers from returning to your property. To do this, request to the officer filing the complaint that criminal charges be filed against the accused. If damage was done to your property by the trespasser, you may also wish to file a civil suit against them in small claims court. This may lead to a judgment that the accused would have to pay for any repairs needed due to the trespassing. To file a civil suit against someone in Tennessee, you need to issue a court summons against them with the clerk of the court in your district. They will then be summoned, or ordered, to appear in court and be given a ruling. If the ruling is decided in your favor by the judge preceding over your case, you may be able to collect reimbursement for property repairs.
If possible, record the trespassers with a video camera so that you will have solid evidence of the crime if the police do not arrive before the trespassers leave.
Do not confront the trespassers if you feel that it may present a danger to you; call the police and wait for them to arrive.
- If possible, record the trespassers with a video camera so that you will have solid evidence of the crime if the police do not arrive before the trespassers leave.
- Do not confront the trespassers if you feel that it may present a danger to you; call the police and wait for them to arrive.
This article was written by Legal Beagle staff. If you have any questions, please reach out to us on our contact us page.