About Trespass Notification
A trespass notification is your official notice to anyone who does not have a legal right to be on your property, that his or her presence on or in your property will not be tolerated. It will also notify the individual that their arrest and prosecution may result from their failure to comply with the notice.
You may draft your own letter or feel free to use the Trespass Notification (PDF) available from the Sheriff's Office. Regardless of which option you choose, the following procedures are recommended:
- After completing a Trespass Notification form or letter you should mail a copy via certified letter/return receipt requested to the offending party. It is imperative that you retain the original copy for your files.
- On receipt of the certified mailing, place the original form or letter and the receipt of the certified mailing in your files. These documents should be in a location that is easily accessible from the property in question.
- Produce these documents to any deputy who responds to future complaints of trespassing involving the listed party.
- The documents will be required should any court proceedings arise from the arrest of the offender.
What to Do if the Offender Comes Onto Your Property
Call the Sheriff's Office immediately. In a non-emergency situation, call 703-777-1021. If it is an emergency, please call 911.
When the Sheriff's Office arrives, explain that you have followed the steps necessary regarding the Trespass Notification. If the offender is still on your property and you produce the required documents, the offender will be arrested at the discretion of the on-scene deputy sheriff.
If the offender is present, though not committing a trespass (i.e., is on an adjacent property / street) at the arrival of the Sheriff's Office and you wish to prosecute the offender, you may contact the on-duty magistrate at 703-777-0383.
The on-scene deputy sheriff can further discuss this procedure with you.
If the Offender has Refused to Accept the Certified Letter
In the presence of the on-scene deputy sheriff, advise the offender that his or her presence on your property will no longer be tolerated. Make it clear to the offender that you are reading from the Trespass Notification form or letter. You may then hand the copy to the offender. If you do not feel comfortable doing this - ask the deputy sheriff to hand the form or letter to the offender. Or, you may simply drop the letter at the feet of the offender. Either way, the offender will have received what is referred to as a "Personal Service" of the document.
If You Know Who the Offender Is But Don't Know Where They Live
Request the on-scene deputy sheriff to obtain the offender's information for you. This will only be done if the offender is at or near the scene.
Points to Remember
- Do not confront the offender - call the Sheriff's Office.
- File your documentation so it is readily available; to present to a deputy sheriff; for evidence in court proceedings (the Sheriff's Office does not maintain a file on Trespass Notifications).