New and Improved Seattle Trespass Programs
Contract Trespass Warning Program
The Seattle City Attorney's Office and Seattle Police Department, in conjunction with the Racial Disparity Project, developed new protocols to address trespass issues facing the community. The City's renewed Contract Trespass Warning Program ("Program") is an agreement between individual property owners, businesses, and Seattle Police Department to regulate conditions of entry on their property. Owners must post signs notifying the public about three conditions of entry and cooperate in the prosecution of those charged with violating those conditions.
Individuals who receive notice and subsequently violate conditions of entry may be arrested for criminal trespass. Violators must first be warned that their privilege to be on the property is revoked by someone with authority to do so. For those properties subject to the Program, Seattle Police Department or someone with the authority to revoke that privilege may issue a warning. Properties not subject to the Program may develop their own protocols to regulate the conditions of their property. In addition, someone with the authority to revoke the privilege must be willing to testify that the person violated the conditions of entry, had their privileges revoked, and then refused to leave or returned to the property.
Criminal Trespass remains a misdemeanor (2nd Degree: when outside of a building) and a gross misdemeanor (1st Degree: when inside a building).
The Trespass Warning Program does not replace codified law. Officers may still arrest for violations of SMC 12A.08.040 (Criminal Trespass) on private property regardless of the existence of a trespass warning agreement if someone with the authority to revoke privilege has previously admonished the individual from the property and is willing to testify as a witness.
Parks Trespass Warning Program
The City's Parks Trespass Warning Program is similar to the Contract Trespass Warning Program. The City has adopted rules of conduct for City parks and has posted them in certain parks. The Seattle Police Department, park rangers, and other designees of the Parks Superintendent will issue a warning to an individual who violates a parks rule, policy, local or state law. The warning applies to all parks properties and does not expire. The individual may be arrested and prosecuted for criminal trespass if the individual subsequently violates a park rule, policy, local or state law in a park. If an individual commits a weapons violation or a felony crime in a park, she may be excluded from that particular park zone for one-year. If an individual commits a weapons violation or a felony crime in a park, she may be excluded from that particular park zone for one-year. If an individual demonstrates conduct in a park or Parks facility that is a threat to public safety, the officer may exclude that person from that specific park or facility for the remainder of the day. The individual may be arrested and prosecuted for criminal trespass if the individual enters/remains in the park or park zone from which he has been previously excluded during the period of time for the exclusion.