8. What is “trespass”?
The tort of trespass is similar to the crime of trespass. It involves physically entering onto someone else’s land without consent or remaining there after being asked to leave (consent is revoked). The difference between the civil action and the criminal charge is that a tort requires the existence of damages to be actionable.
• Note: In addition to personally entering someone’s land, trespass can occur by projecting something (such as pollution or garbage) onto another’s land without consent.
• Discussion: How does the civil tort of trespass relate to constitutional protections? How do you feel about trespass and the requirement for damages to bring a civil action? Can you think of scenarios where trespass could take place with no damages, but a civil action is preferable to pursuing criminal charges?
• Practice Question: Jason is in a local bar and music venue listening to a popular musical group. He drinks too much and becomes intoxicated. The bar bouncers kindly asks Jason to leave, but he refuses on the grounds that he rightfully paid the cost of entrance. If Jason refuses to leave, has he committed a tort?