Unlawful Entry/Trespass

Unlike burglary, which generally requires entry into a building or structure with intent to commit a crime, unlawful entry onto property/trespass involves mere presence on property without authorization or consent.  As such, it is a far less serious offense.

Washington, DC

It is illegal in D.C. to enter or attempt to enter any private dwelling, public building or other property or to remain within such property without lawful authority and against the will of the lawful occupant.  ”Private dwelling” is defined as a privately owned house, apartment, condo or any other building used as living quarters.  The maximum penalty for this offense is a $1,000 fine and 180 days of imprisonment. D.C. Criminal Code 22-3302.

For information on most recent case law on unlawful entry in D.C., click here.


In order to secure a conviction for trespass onto property in Virginia, the government must first prove that the defendant entered or remained on the property of another without authorization.  Second, the government must prove that the defendant was instructed – orally or in writing – either not to enter or to leave.  The penalty for violating this statute is confinement in jail for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-119.