A law that you might not be aware of, but definitely should be aware of, is the “Purple Paint Law”. If you’ve ever wandered out hunting, hiking or just taking a walk through your neighborhood and noticed a tree or fence post painted purple, don’t go snooping around it, because the consequences could be legally binding. The Purple Paint Law allows property owners to communicate to the public by way of purple paint on a tree or a fence post. If you see a big purple stripe and an intentional streak of purple paint, it is the equivalent of a “no trespassing” sign and if you walk past the purple markers, you are considered trespassing and in violation of the law.
On September 1st, 1997, Texas promulgated Penal Code §30.05 which states, “A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another without effective consent and the person had notice that the entry was forbidden”.
The penal code also states that “the placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are: vertical lines of not less than eight inches in length and not less than one inch in width; placed so that the bottom of the mark is not less than three feet from the ground or more than five feet from the ground; and placed at locations that are readily visible to any person approaching the property and no more than: 100 feet apart on forest land; or 1,000 feet apart on land other than forest land” Forest land meaning, property where trees are suitable for timber products.
If you see a purple painted tree or fence post and continue to trespass, depending on the circumstances and what kind of land it is, it could be a Class C or even a Class B misdemeanor which is punishable with a fine of no more than $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in a county jail. If you happen to be hunting on someone’s property and are in violation of the penal code, the punishment is bumped up to a Class A misdemeanor due to carrying a “deadly weapon”, which doesn’t necessarily mean a gun – it could be a bow or even a knife. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable with a fine of no more than $4,000 and/or up to 1 year in a county jail.
The purple paint tree law is enforceable by a licensed peace officer, including sheriff’s deputies, police officers and game wardens. This law also exempts first responders, medics and firefighters from entering the property even in the event of an emergency.
Texas is the only state that implements the purple paint law – Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina also enforce this law, however, their penal codes may have different punishments for violation of it.
Now that you know how crucial it is to understand what purple painted objects mean, feel free to paint your own fence posts and trees – just do it according to penal code and understand who you are exempting when you do it. Make sure to be clear when communicating if you wish to grant someone permission to enter your property and most of all, be safe!