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Trespassing And Purple Paint

Trespassing And Purple Paint

By John Allen Nichols, Agriculture Counsel

Alabama Farmers Federation

Landowners have an inexpensive method to warn would-be trespassers, thanks to a law passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2016. Known as the “Purple Paint Law,” it was fashioned after laws from several other states in an effort to discourage trespassers.

To properly mark property with purple paint, Alabama Code § 13A-7-1 requires:

a. Vertical stripes at least 8 inches tall and at least 1 inch wide; 

b. The bottom of the stripe must be at least 3 feet from the ground but no higher than 5  feet from the ground;

c. The marks must be 100 feet or less apart on forestland and less than 1,000 feet apart on non-forestland. 

An essential element of trespass offense is the trespasser enters a property that is not their own “willfully” or “knowingly”. Conduct that is willful or knowing requires the trespasser be aware he is entering property that does not belong to him or her. 

Establishing willful or knowing conduct requires proof the potential trespasser knew or should have known they were on someone else’s property and requires notice of the property lines.

Historically, “No Trespassing” signs provided such notice. Under Alabama law, those posted signs remain a valid notification. However, the purple paint rule provides landowners a second option. 

If property is properly marked with purple paint or posted with “No Trespassing” signs, it can then be assumed anyone entering the property knew it was someone else’s property, even if they claim to not have seen the sign. Purple paint markers are sufficient to establish the “knowing” or “willful” component of the trespassing offense.

Landowners should remember establishing “notice” is only the first step in pursuing a trespassing claim. With purple paint, landowners can satisfy this requirement efficiently without investing in signage. 

The material presented above is meant for educational purposes only. The content does not constitute legal advice. If readers require specific advice or services, a legal or other professional should be consulted.

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