FEDERATION SUPPORTS BILL STRENGTHENING CRIMINAL TRESPASS LAWS
HB 550 and HB 465, sponsored by Rep. Joe Carothers, D-Dothan, would make much-needed changes to the current trespass laws in Alabama. HB 550 passed the House last week and is among many bills waiting to be received in the Senate.
HB 550 would provide civil immunity for landowners against trespassers. An owner, lessee or occupant of land would owe no duty of care to a person entering the property without the actual knowledge and express permission of the owner and would owe no duty to any person entering the land without the actual knowledge and the express permission of the owner or occupier to warn the person regarding a hazardous condition.
The bill is not designed to repeal liability for the willful or malicious failure to guard against a dangerous artificial condition, use, structure or activity.
Under existing law, a landowner or person in possession of land may be liable to a person using the land depending on the legal status of the person using the land.
The status of a person using land of another is generally classified as a licensee, trespasser or invitee. The landowner only owes a duty to a trespasser not to wantonly or intentional injure the person. However, the landowner may be liable to a child for a dangerous condition on the land or an attractive nuisance.
HB 465 would clarify criminal trespass in an effort to make it clear these statutes apply to any real property regardless of the number or nature of interests in the property; to permit prosecution of persons who knowingly enter property by crossing a fence, body of water, gate, barricade, cable or berm; and defines when notice against trespassing has been posted in a conspicuous manner.
This bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, and has not been put on the committee agenda.