It’s safe to assume that if you’re in a public space, you need to behave in accordance with the laws of the land, or else risk arrest and prosecution. But what about if you’re on property that you own? Surely the things you do in the privacy of your own home, or within the bounds of your land, are not as strictly governed by the law?
This is a more complex topic than you might imagine, so let’s outline the main elements involved so that you aren’t caught out.
What Constitutes “Your Own Property”?
When it comes to being charged with a crime on your own property, the term “property” is important. Generally speaking, this can refer to any land or building that you have legal ownership of, either through purchase or lease.
This could include your primary residence, a vacation home, rental properties owned by you and so forth.
It’s worth noting too that if you are renting out part of a property, or a piece of land, then you must still adhere to both local laws and those stipulations outlined in any leasing contract you signed.
Some Acts, e.g. Lewdness, Are Criminal Offenses if Others Can Easily See You
The legality of an act is partly based on whether you’re visible to others, even if you’re on your own property.
Examples include fourth degree offenses like public indecency and lewdness. If bystanders can observe it occurring from a distance, then the fact that you’re not on public land is irrelevant.
It should be obvious, but this means that you can’t stand naked in your bedroom window for hours on end if this is in full view of the sidewalk, without expecting repercussions.
Intoxication in Public or Disturbance of the Peace On Your Own Property Could Lead to Arrest and Charges
In some cases, if you cause a disturbance on your own property that can be heard by neighbors or other people, then law enforcement may have cause to intervene.
This could result in criminal charges being laid against you for public intoxication, or disturbing the peace.
It’s worth noting too that even if no one else is present but yourself, police officers responding to complaints from nearby residents have powers under local laws which enable them to enter private premises without an invitation and make arrests where necessary, although this generally requires prior notice being given. Therefore it’s important to always be aware of your actions while within any area owned by you, or at a vacation rental, for example.
Discharging Firearms on Private Land May Have Legal Consequences
The use of firearms can be an activity which is subject to criminal charges even when taking place on private land. This relates largely to the laws surrounding such weapons at state and federal level, with many areas including certain restrictions or outright bans in certain circumstances.
For instance, it may be illegal for someone who has a concealed carry permit not issued by the particular county or municipality to discharge their firearm on private property.
Meanwhile some regional bodies have laws prohibiting all forms of discharge within residential zones, unless authorization has been sought and approved in advance.
All of this means that it’s important then to research local regulations before engaging in any kind of weapon-related activities while on your own property, or on private land belonging to anyone else for that matter.
The Bottom Line
The law extends to every corner of the country, and so while you can generally enjoy more freedoms behind closed doors than in public, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to arrest or conviction on your own property. Being wise to the rules that apply where you live is the best way to avoid overstepping the mark.
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