Trespassing: what does the law say? What are the consequences for intruders in a condominium


Emma Potter

Trespassing represents one of the crimes that can be committed most easily in everyday life, often without even realizing it. In a world where privacy and respect for other people's spaces are fundamental values, entering theentrance hall of a building or in any other private space without permission can have significant legal consequences.

The distinction between a harmless act of curiosity and an actual violation of the law is subtle, but crucially important.

In this article, we will explore what the law says about trespassing, the possible sanctions, and how these principles apply in specific contexts such as condominiums, offering a detailed analysis supported by recent Supreme Court rulings.

The law and trespass

Italian law is clear in delineating the boundaries of trespass. According to thearticle 614 of the Criminal Codethis crime is committed when one enters another person's private property without permission or, having already accessed it, refuses to leave it despite the explicit request of the owner.

Article 614

Anyone who enters another person's home, or another place of private residence, or into their belongings, against the express or tacit will of those who have the right to exclude him, or enters there clandestinely or by deception, is punished with imprisonment from one to four years.

Anyone who remains in the said places against the express will of those who have the right to exclude him, or who remains there clandestinely or by deception, is subject to the same penalty.
The penalty is from two to six years if the crime is committed with violence against things or people, or if the culprit is clearly armed.

The crime is punishable upon complaint by the offended person. However, action is taken automatically when the act is committed with violence against people, or if the culprit is clearly armed or if the act is committed with violence against things against a person who is incapable, due to age or infirmity.

This definition applies both to more obvious intrusions, such as unauthorized access to a private garden or home, and to less obvious situations, such as refusal of a seller to abandon a property after being invited to do so.

It is interesting to note how the Penal Code extends the concept of domicile also to appurtenances of the home, such as courtyards, condominium entrance halls and other common areas, underlining how even simply entering these spaces without the right can constitute a trespass. The law makes no distinction between physically entering a home or staying unjustifiably in its immediate vicinity: both acts can have criminal consequences.

This regulatory framework emphasizes the importance of respecting private property and the privacy of others, fundamental principles in a civil society. However, the practical application of these rules may vary depending on the specific circumstances, as demonstrated by various rulings of Italian jurisprudence, including those of the Court of Cassation.

There Supreme Court ruling no. 34753 of 2022 further expands the scope of application of this crime, underlining how safety and privacy within condominium spaces are protected with the same vigor reserved for individual residential units.

Legal consequences and criminal implications

The consequences for those who commit a trespass vary depending on the severity of the crime. The legislation provides for a basic penalty from one to four years of imprisonment for simple violations, which can be aggravated in cases where the action is carried out with violence or in the presence of weapons, carrying the penalty up to six years.

The distinction between the two types of crime is fundamental, since the aggravated violation allows official criminal action, without the need for a complaint from the victim. This aspect underlines the importance that the legislator attributes to the protection of the private home, considered an inviolable personal sanctuary, whose security must not be compromised.

The law, therefore, severely punishes anyone who dares to violate this fundamental principle, thus ensuring an effective deterrent against possible intruders.

Conclusions and final reflections

The concept of trespassing encompasses a series of behaviors that go far beyond the simple act of entering a private home without permission. As we have seen, Italian law rigorously protects the privacy and inviolability of the home, including under this protection the common spaces in condominium contexts and the appurtenances of the home.

The Supreme Court ruling has further clarified how any action that breaches this private sphere can be severely sanctioned, demonstrating the importance attributed to individual and collective safety.

Knowledge of the rules governing trespassing is essential to avoid involuntarily engaging in criminally relevant behaviour, but also to recognize and protect one's rights against unauthorized intrusions.