The crime of Trespass is defined by Iowa Code section 716.7 as the crime a person commits any of the following acts:
a. Entering upon or in property without the express permission of the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession with the intent to commit a public offense, to use, remove therefrom, alter, damage, harass, or place thereon or therein anything animate or inanimate, or to hunt, fish or trap on or in the property, including the act of taking or attempting to take a deer, other than a farm deer as defined in section 170.1 or preserve whitetail as defined in section 484C.1, which is on or in the property by a person
who is outside the property. This paragraph does not prohibit the unarmed pursuit of game or fur-bearing animals by a person who lawfully injured or killed the game or fur-bearing animal which comes to rest on or escapes to the property of another.
b. Entering or remaining upon or in property without justification after being notified or requested to abstain from entering or to remove or vacate therefrom by the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession, or the agent or employee of the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession, or by any peace officer, magistrate, or public employee whose duty it is to supervise the use or maintenance of the property.
c. Entering upon or in property for the purpose or with the effect of unduly interfering with the lawful use of the property by others.
d. Being upon or in property and wrongfully using, removing therefrom, altering, damaging, harassing, or placing thereon or therein anything animate or inanimate, without the implied or actual permission of the owner, lessee, or person in lawful possession.
e. Entering or remaining upon or in railway property without lawful authority or without the consent of the railway corporation which owns, leases, or operates the railway property. This paragraph does not apply to passage over a railroad right-of-way, other than a track, railroad roadbed, viaduct, bridge, trestle, or railroad yard, by an unarmed person if the person has not been notified or requested to abstain from entering on to the right-of-way or to vacate the right-of-way and the passage over the right-of-way does not interfere with the operation of the railroad.
Iowa law defines term “property” to mean any land, dwelling, building, conveyance, vehicle, or other temporary or permanent structure whether publicly or privately owned. Thus, a trespass charge in Iowa can relate to land, a building, or a vehicle, whether it is owned by an individual, a company, or the government.
Trespass charges in Iowa are generally simple misdemeanors, meaning the maximum penalty is 30 days in the county jail. However, in some cases the charge can be a serious misdemeanor or an aggravated misdemeanor, such as in cases of property damage of the commission of other crimes during the trespassing. The serious misdemeanor version of trespassing carries up a year in jail, while the aggravated misdemeanor version can carry a 2 year term in the Iowa Department of Corrections (prison). In addition to criminal penalties, trespassing can also result in civil liability in Iowa.
A person facing a trespassing charge in Iowa is well advised to seek an attorney at once, as properly handling the case is important.