Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 55.1. Property and Conveyances
Chapter 28. Trespasses; Fences
6/25/2022

Chapter 28. Trespasses; Fences.

Article 1. Electric Fences.

§ 55.1-2800. Definition.

As used in this article, "electric fence" means a fence designed to conduct electric current along one or more wires of such fence so that a person or animal touching any such wire or wires will receive an electric shock.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.4; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2801. Unlawful to sell, distribute, construct, install, maintain, or use certain electric fences upon agricultural land.

A. It is unlawful for any person to sell, distribute, construct, install, maintain, or use upon any land used for agricultural purposes or, for any person exercising supervision or control over any such land, to permit any other person to construct, install, maintain, or use any electric fence energized with an electric charge unless the charge is regulated by a controlling device. Except as otherwise provided in this article, such controlling device shall display the approved label of and shall conform to the safety standards promulgated by the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., in its publication number UL69, dated June 30, 2009, and entitled "Standard for Safety for Electric-Fence Controllers," as the same may from time to time be supplemented, or shall display the approved label of and meet the safety standards promulgated by the International Electrotechnical Commission in its publication IEC 60335-2-76, second edition (BS EN 69335-2-76), as the same may from time to time be supplemented.

B. No metallically continuous fence or set of electrically connected fences shall be supplied by more than one controlling device.

C. Any controlling device shall be suitably grounded when placed in service.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2802. Unlawful to sell other controlling devices unless they meet certain standards.

A. A controlling device that does not conform to the requirements of § 55.1-2801 shall not be sold, distributed, constructed, installed, maintained, or used unless it meets the following standards:

1. A peak-discharge-output type controlling device that delivers intermittent current of a value not in excess of four milliampere-seconds for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of three-quarters second. The mean value of the peak output from such device shall progressively decrease from four milliampere-seconds at maximum "on" periods of both two-tenths and one-tenth second to three and two-tenths milliampere-seconds at six-hundredths second, one and nine-tenths milliampere-seconds at three-hundredths second, and consequently to shorter "on" periods as output current increases.

2. A sinusoidal-output type controlling device that delivers an intermittent current of a value not in excess of five milliamperes for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of nine-tenths second. The effective value of the output from such device may increase as the "on" period decreases, increasing from 40 milliamperes for one-tenth second to 57 milliamperes for five-hundredths second, and 65 milliamperes for twenty-seven thousandths second.

3. Any other type of controlling device that delivers a maximum intermittent current output of a value not in excess of four milliampere-seconds for a maximum "on" period of two-tenths second and a minimum "off" period of nine-tenths second.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, no electric fence controlling device shall be sold, distributed, constructed, installed, maintained, or used that will permit for longer than one second an uninterrupted electric current on the fence with an effective value in excess of five milliamperes when the load, including the measuring device, is not less than 450 ohms nor more than 550 ohms.

1982, c. 280, §§ 55-298.2, 55-298.3; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2803. Penalty.

Any person who violates any provision of this article is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1982, c. 280, § 55-298.5; 2019, c. 712.

Article 2. What Constitutes Lawful Fence.

§ 55.1-2804. Description of lawful fence.

Every fence shall be deemed a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock that could not creep through such fence, if it is:

1. At least five feet high, including, if the fence is on a mound, the mound to the bottom of the ditch;

2. Made of barbed wire, at least 42 inches high, consisting of at least four strands of barbed wire, firmly fixed to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground, spaced no farther than 12 feet apart unless a substantial stay or brace is installed halfway between such posts, trees, or other supports to which such wires are also fixed;

3. Made of boards, planks, or rails, at least 42 inches high, consisting of at least three boards firmly attached to posts, trees, or other supports substantially set in the ground;

4. At least three feet high, if such fence is within the limits of any town whose charter neither prescribes, nor gives to the town council power to prescribe, what shall constitute a lawful fence within such corporate limits; or

5. Any other fence, except as otherwise described in this section, if it is:

a. At least 42 inches high;

b. Constructed from materials sold for fencing or consisting of systems or devices based on technology generally accepted as appropriate for the confinement or restriction of domesticated livestock; and

c. Installed pursuant to generally acceptable standards so that applicable domesticated livestock cannot creep through the same.

A cattle guard reasonably sufficient to turn all kinds of livestock shall also be deemed a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock.

Nothing contained in this section shall affect the right of any such town to regulate or forbid the running at large of cattle and other domestic animals within its corporate limits.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services may adopt regulations regarding lawful fencing consistent with this section to provide greater specificity as to the requirements of lawful fencing. The absence of any such regulation shall not affect the validity or applicability of this section as it relates to what constitutes lawful fencing.

Code 1950, § 8-869; 1977, c. 624, § 55-299; 2007, c. 574; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2805. Proceeding to declare stream of water or canal a lawful fence.

A. The circuit court of any county, upon a petition of any owner or tenant of lands on any stream of water or canal, may declare and establish such stream or canal, or any part of either within the limits and jurisdiction of the county, a lawful fence as to any domesticated livestock. Notice of the application shall be given by posting a copy of the petition at the front door of the courthouse and at two or more public places at or near the stream or canal to which the petition applies, for 30 days, and by publishing such notice once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in such county. At or before the trial of the cause, any person interested may enter himself a defendant.

B. The court may, upon petition and notice of any person interested, revoke or alter any order made under subsection A, but such order shall not be made within one year from the date of the original and shall not take effect until six months after it is made.

Code 1950, §§ 8-870, 8-871; 1977, c. 624, §§ 55-300, 55-301; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2806. Boundary lines of certain low grounds on James River a lawful fence.

The owners and occupants of low grounds on either side of the James River in Albemarle, Buckingham, and Goochland Counties, enclosed by lawful fences on the back and hill lands, need not keep up any fence on the boundary lines running across the low grounds to the river, and such boundary lines shall be deemed a lawful fence, except where public roads cross the river or run parallel with its banks.

Code 1950, § 8-872; 1977, c. 624, § 55-302; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2807. Statutes declaring watercourses lawful fences continued.

All acts declaring any river, stream, or watercourse, or any part thereof, or any boundary in any county, a lawful fence, or authorizing any court so to declare the same, or enacting a special fence law for any county or any part thereof, and all acts relating to the making or repairing of division fences in any county or in any part thereof that may be in force on the day before the Code of 1887 took effect, shall continue in force.

Code 1950, § 8-873; 1977, c. 624, § 55-303; 2019, c. 712.

Article 3. Cattle Guards and Gates Across Rights-of-Way.

§ 55.1-2808. Property owner may place cattle guards or gates across right-of-way.

Any owner of property on which there is a road or way, not a public road, a highway, a street, or an alley, over which an easement exists for ingress and egress of others may place cattle guards or gates across such way when required for the protection of livestock.

Code 1950, § 8-873.1; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624, § 55-304; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2809. Persons having easement may replace gate with cattle guard; maintenance and use thereof; deemed lawful gate.

Any person having an easement of right-of-way across the lands of another may, at his own expense, replace any gate thereon with a substantial cattle guard sufficient to turn livestock. Such cattle guards shall be maintained by the owner of the easement, who shall be responsible for keeping such cattle guards at all times in sufficient condition to turn livestock. If a cattle guard is rendered inoperative by inclement weather, the easement owner shall utilize and maintain any reasonable alternative method sufficient to turn livestock from the inoperative cattle guard until such cattle guard is rendered operative again. If the gate to be replaced is needed or used for the orderly ingress and egress of equipment or animals thereover, then such persons acting under the authority of this section shall construct such cattle guards so as to allow such ingress and egress or, if such easement is of sufficient width, may place such cattle guard adjacent to such gate.

Such a cattle guard shall be deemed a lawful gate and not an interference with such easement.

Code 1950, §§ 8-873.2, 8-873.3; 1954, c. 461; 1977, c. 624, § 55-305; 1992, c. 483; 2019, c. 712.

Article 4. Trespass in Crossing Lawful Fence.

§ 55.1-2810. Damages for trespass by animals; punitive and double damages.

A. If any domesticated livestock enters into any grounds enclosed by a lawful fence, as defined in §§ 55.1-2804 through 55.1-2807, the owner or manager of any such animal shall be liable for the actual damages sustained.

B. Punitive damages may be awarded but shall not exceed $20 in any case.

C. For every second and subsequent trespass, the owner or manager of such animal shall be liable for double damages, both actual and punitive.

Code 1950, §§ 8-874 through 8-876; 1977, c. 624, § 55-306; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2811. Lien on animals.

If the court enters judgment for the owner or tenant of the grounds enclosed by a lawful fence pursuant to § 55.1-2810, the landowner shall have a lien upon such animal. Upon entry of the judgment, the court shall issue a writ of fieri facias pursuant to § 8.01-478, and the animal found to have trespassed shall be levied upon by the officer to whom such execution was issued, who shall sell such animal, as provided in Chapter 18 (§ 8.01-466 et seq.) of Title 8.01.

Code 1950, § 8-877; 1977, c. 624, § 55-307; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2812. Impounding animals.

Whenever any animal is found trespassing upon any grounds enclosed by a lawful fence, the owner or tenant of such enclosed grounds shall have the right to take up and impound such animal until the damages provided for pursuant to this article have been paid, or until such animal is taken under execution by the officer as provided by § 55.1-2811. The costs of taking up and impounding such animal shall be estimated as a part of the actual damage.

Code 1950, § 8-878; 1977, c. 624, § 55-308; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2813. Duty to issue warrant when animal impounded.

An owner or tenant of lands trespassed upon by any domesticated livestock, within three days after the taking up and impounding such animal unless the damages are otherwise settled, shall apply to a person authorized to issue warrants of the county or city in which such land is situated for a warrant for the amount of damages claimed by him. The court, or the clerk thereof, shall issue such warrant, to be made returnable at as early a date, but not less than three days after such issuance, as shall be deemed best by him; and upon the hearing of the case the judge shall give such judgment as is deemed just and right.

Code 1950, § 8-879; 1968, c. 639; 1977, c. 624, § 55-309; 2019, c. 712.

Article 5. No-Fence Law.

§ 55.1-2814. How governing body of county may make local fence law.

The board of supervisors or other governing body in any county, after publishing notice as required by subsection F of § 15.2-1427, may, by ordinance, declare the boundary line of each lot or tract of land or any stream in such county, any magisterial district of such county, or any selected portion of such county, to be a lawful fence as to any or all domesticated livestock, or may declare any other kind of fence for such county, magisterial district, or selected portion of the county than as prescribed by § 55.1-2804 to be a lawful fence, as to any or all of such animals.

Code 1950, § 8-880; 1977, c. 624, § 55-310; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2815. Effect of such law on certain fences.

A declaration made by ordinance adopted pursuant to § 55.1-2814 shall not apply to relieve the adjoining landowners from making and maintaining their division fences, as defined by § 55.1-2804; however, Article 6 (§ 55.1-2821 et seq.) shall apply to such division fences.

Code 1950, § 8-881; 1977, c. 624, § 55-311; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2816. Application to railroad companies.

No action taken under the provisions of § 55.1-2814 shall relieve any railroad company of any duty or obligation imposed on every such company by § 56-429, or imposed by any other statute now in force, in reference to fencing their lines of railway and rights-of-way.

Code 1950, § 8-882; 1977, c. 624, § 55-312; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2817. No authority to adopt more stringent fence laws.

Nothing in § 55.1-2814 shall authorize or require the boards of supervisors or other governing bodies of counties to declare a more stringent fence as a lawful fence for any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county than as prescribed by § 55.1-2804.

Code 1950, § 8-883; 1977, c. 624, § 55-313; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2818. Effect on existing fence laws or no-fence laws.

Nothing in § 55.1-2814 shall repeal the existing fence laws in any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county, until changed by the board of supervisors or other governing body, by ordinance and in accordance with the provisions thereof, nor shall the provisions of § 55.1-2814 apply to any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of any county in which the no-fence law is now in force, if such no-fence law exists otherwise than in an ordinance adopted by the board of supervisors or other governing body of such county entered pursuant to § 55.1-2814.

Code 1950, § 8-884; 1977, c. 624, § 55-314; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2819. Lands under quarantine.

The boundary line of each lot or tract of land in any county in the Commonwealth that is under quarantine shall be a lawful fence as to any and all domesticated livestock.

Code 1950, § 8-885; 1977, c. 624, § 55-315; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2820. When unlawful for animals to run at large.

It is unlawful for the owner or manager of any domesticated livestock to permit any such animal, as to which the boundaries of lots or tracts of land have been or may be constituted a lawful fence, to run at large beyond the limits of his own lands within the county, magisterial district, or portion of such county in which such boundaries have been constituted and are a lawful fence.

Code 1950, § 8-886; 1977, c. 624, § 55-316; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

Article 6. Division Fences.

§ 55.1-2821. Obligation to provide division fences.

Adjoining landowners shall build and maintain, at their joint and equal expense, division fences between their lands, unless one of them chooses to let his land lie open or unless they agree otherwise.

Code 1950, § 8-887; 1970, c. 713; 1977, c. 624, § 55-317; 2005, c. 873; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2822. When no division fence has been built.

If no division fence has been built, either one of the adjoining landowners may give notice in writing of his desire and intention to build such fence to the landowner of the adjoining land, or to his agent, and require him to build his half of such fence. The landowner so notified may, within 10 days after receiving such notice, give notice in writing to the person so desiring to build such fence, or to his agent, of his intention to let his land lie open. If the landowner giving the original notice subsequently builds such division fence and the landowner who has so chosen to let his land lie open, or his successors in title, subsequently encloses his land, he, or his successors, shall be liable to the landowner who built such fence, or to his successors in title, for one-half of the value of such fence at the time such land was so enclosed, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

If, however, the person so notified fails to give notice of his intention to let his land lie open, and fails to agree, within 30 days after being so notified, to build his half of such fence, he shall be liable to the person who builds the fence for one-half of the expense, and such fence shall thereafter be deemed a division fence between such lands.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no successor in title shall be liable for any amount prior to the recordation and proper recordation of the notice in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located.

Code 1950, § 8-888; 1977, c. 624, § 55-318; 1985, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2823. When division fence already built.

When any fence (i) that has been built and used by adjoining landowners as a division fence, or any fence that has been built by one landowner and the other landowner is afterwards required to pay half of the value or expense of such fence under the provisions contained in this article, and (ii) that has thereby become a division fence between such lands, becomes out of repair to the extent that it is no longer a lawful fence, either one of such adjoining landowners may give written notice to the other, or to his agent, of his desire and intention to repair such fence and require him to repair his half of such fence. If the landowner receiving written notice fails to repair his half within 30 days after being so notified, the one giving such notice may then repair the entire fence so as to make it a lawful fence, and the other shall be liable to him for one-half of the expense of such repairs.

Code 1950, § 8-889; 1977, c. 624, § 55-319; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2824. Recovery of amount due in connection with division fence.

Any sum that may be due and payable by one adjoining landowner to another in pursuance of any of the provisions of §§ 55.1-2822 and 55.1-2823 may be recovered by action or warrant in debt, according to the jurisdictional amount.

Code 1950, § 8-890; 1977, c. 624, § 55-320; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2825. Requirements for agreement to bind successors in title; subsequent owners.

No agreement made between adjoining landowners, with respect to the construction or maintenance of the division fence between their lands, shall be binding on their successors in title unless it (i) is in writing and specifically so state, (ii) is recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located, and (iii) is properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed.

If any notice, as required by § 55.1-2822 or 55.1-2823 is recorded in the deed book in the clerk's office of the county in which the land is located and is properly indexed as deeds are required by law to be indexed, then any subsequent owners of such land shall be liable for any sum that may be due pursuant to § 55.1-2824.

Code 1950, § 8-891; 1977, c. 624, § 55-321; 1985, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2826. How notice given.

Any notice required to be given pursuant to this article shall be given to the landowner, if he resides in the county in which the land lies; otherwise, it may be given to such person as, under the laws of the Commonwealth, would be his agent or to any person occupying such land as tenant of the landowner, who shall, for the purposes of this article, be deemed the agent of such landowner.

Code 1950, § 8-892; 1977, c. 624, § 55-322; 2019, c. 712.

Article 7. Special Provisions for Unincorporated Communities.

§ 55.1-2827. Courts to fix boundaries of villages to prevent animals from running at large.

The circuit court of any county in which is situated any village or unincorporated community having within defined boundaries a population of 300 or more shall have jurisdiction to fix the boundaries of such village or unincorporated community for the purpose of preventing domesticated livestock from running at large within such boundaries.

Code 1950, § 8-893; 1977, c. 624, § 55-323; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2828. Petition for action to fix boundaries of village or unincorporated community.

Twenty or more landowners residing within the boundaries referred to in § 55.1-2827 may file a petition signed by them requesting that the boundaries of such village or unincorporated community be fixed for the purposes of § 55.1-2827. Notice of the intention to file such petition, stating the date on which the petition will be filed, and such notice shall be (i) posted at the front door of the courthouse of such county, and at three or more conspicuous places within such boundaries and (ii) published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the county where the village or unincorporated community is located, at least 10 days before the day on which such petition is to be presented. Such petition shall state with reasonable certainty the boundaries within which it is desired to prohibit such animals from running at large, that at least 300 persons reside within such boundaries, and that a majority of the landowners residing therein are in favor of prohibiting such animals from running at large.

Code 1950, § 8-894; 1977, c. 624, § 55-324; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2829. Entry of order if petition not contested.

A petition filed pursuant to § 55.1-2828, if verified by the oath of one or more of the petitioners, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein, and the court without further evidence shall proceed to enter the order fixing the boundaries of the village or unincorporated community unless such petition is contested.

Code 1950, § 8-895; 1977, c. 624, § 55-325; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2830. Procedure in case of contest.

Any person having a lawful interest in any land within the boundaries referred to in any petition to fix the boundaries of a village or unincorporated community who wishes to contest such petition may intervene in such action as a defendant. In case of such contest, the judge shall hear the evidence and, if in doubt as to the facts, may appoint one or more persons to canvass such community and report to the court the number of persons residing within such boundaries, the names of all the landowners residing therein, and whether such landowners are for or against the petition.

Code 1950, § 8-896; 1977, c. 624, § 55-326; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2831. Order of court.

The court shall enter an order fixing the boundaries of any village or unincorporated community having within defined boundaries a population of 300 or more for the purpose of preventing domesticated livestock from running at large within such boundaries if (i) in the case of a contested petition, it appears from the evidence or from a report, if any is required pursuant to § 55.1-2830, that at least 300 persons reside within the boundaries referred to in a petition filed pursuant to § 55.1-2828 and that a majority of the landowners residing therein are in favor of prohibiting domesticated livestock from running at large or (ii) in the case of an uncontested petition, on the basis of the evidence presented in the petition itself.

Code 1950, § 8-897; 1977, c. 624, § 55-327; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2832. Animals shall not run at large after entry of order.

After the expiration of 10 days from the date of entering an order pursuant to § 55.1-2831, it is unlawful for any domesticated livestock to run at large within such boundaries, and any person owning or having charge of any such animal who permits such livestock to run at large within such boundaries is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Each day such animal is permitted to run at large constitutes a separate offense, and any such animal found running at large upon any street, alley, road, or other public ground within such boundaries may be taken up and impounded by any person who may retain such animal in his custody until the expense of keeping such animal is paid.

Code 1950, § 8-898; 1977, c. 624, § 55-328; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2833. Costs.

If the petition is uncontested, the costs shall be borne by the petitioner; if it is contested, costs shall be awarded to the prevailing party.

Code 1950, § 8-899; 1977, c. 624, § 55-329; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2834. Owner of domesticated livestock liable for trespasses.

If any domesticated livestock, as to which the boundaries of the lots or tracts of land in any county, magisterial district, or selected portion of such county constitute a lawful fence, are found going at large within such county, district, or portion of such county, or upon the lands of any person other than the owner, the owner or manager of such animals shall be liable for all damage or injury done by such animals to the owner of the crops or lands upon which they trespass, whether the animals wander from the premises of their owner in the county in which the trespass was committed or from another county, provided that when the boundaries of lots or tracts of land in only one of two adjoining counties constitutes a lawful fence, and any of such animals escapes across the line or boundary of the two counties, the owner of such animal shall not be liable to the fine imposed by subsection B of § 55.1-2810, nor for any trespass committed by such animal upon the lands lying next to such line or boundary, nor to a forfeiture of the animal, unless the land upon which the trespass is alleged to have been committed is enclosed, as provided in § 55.1-2804.

Code 1950, § 8-900; 1977, c. 624, § 55-330; 1979, c. 486; 2019, c. 712.

Article 8. Cutting Timber.

§ 55.1-2835. Damages recoverable for timber cutting.

If any person, firm, or corporation encroaches and cuts timber, except when acting prudently and under bona fide claim of right, the owner of such timber shall, in addition to all other remedies afforded by law, have the benefit of a right to, and a summary remedy for recovery of, damages in an amount as specified in this article and recovered as provided for in this article.

If the trespass is proven, the defendant shall have the burden of proving that he acted prudently and under a bona fide claim of right.

Code 1950, § 8-906; 1952, c. 658; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-331; 1993, c. 580; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2836. Procedure for determination of damage.

A. The owner of the land on which a trespass as described in § 55.1-2835 was committed shall have the right, within 90 days after the discovery of such trespass and the identity of the trespasser, to notify the trespasser and to appoint an experienced timber estimator to determine the amount of damages. For the purposes of determining damages, the value of the timber cut shall be calculated by first determining the value of the timber on the stump. Within 30 days after receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of such estimator, the alleged trespasser, if he does not deny the fact of trespass, shall appoint an experienced timber estimator to participate with the one already so appointed in the estimation of damages. If the two estimators cannot agree, they shall select a third person, experienced and disinterested, who shall make a decision that shall be final and conclusive and not subject to appeal. The estimation of damages and the rendition of statement must be effected within 30 days from the receipt of notice of appointment, by the trespasser, of an estimator.

If the alleged trespasser fails to appoint an estimator within the prescribed time, or to notify within such time that the allegation of the fact of trespass is disputed, the estimator appointed by the injured party may make an estimate, and collection or recovery may be had accordingly.

B. Any person who (i) severs or removes any timber from the land of another without legal right or permission or (ii) authorizes or directs the severing or removal of timber or trees from the land of another without legal right or permission shall be liable to pay to the rightful owner of the timber three times the value of the timber on the stump and shall pay to the rightful owner of the property the reforestation costs incurred not to exceed $450 per acre, the costs of ascertaining the value of the timber, any directly associated legal costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the owner of the timber as a result of the trespass.

Code 1950, § 8-907; 1977, c. 624, § 55-332; 1987, c. 105; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2016, cc. 245, 562; 2019, cc. 348, 353, 712.

§ 55.1-2837. When person damaged may proceed in court.

If the amount specified in subsection B of § 55.1-2836 is not paid within 30 days after rendition of statement, the person upon whose land the trespass occurred may proceed for judgment in the amount of payment as specified in § 55.1-2836.

If upon receiving notice of the alleged trespass and of the appointment of an estimator, the person so receiving notice does not admit the fact of trespass, he may decline to appoint an estimator and notify the other party to such effect, together with his reason for refusing to appoint an estimator, and in such case the aggrieved party may proceed in the appropriate court.

Code 1950, § 8-909; 1968, c. 251; 1977, c. 624, § 55-334; 2004, cc. 604, 615; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2838. Larceny of timber; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and willfully takes, steals, and removes from the lands of another any timber growing, standing, or lying on the lands is guilty of larceny. Any person so convicted shall be ordered to pay restitution calculated pursuant to § 55.1-2836.

B. In a criminal prosecution pursuant to subsection A, it shall be prima facie evidence of the intent to steal the timber if the timber was harvested or removed from property marked with readily visible paint marks not more than 100 feet apart on trees or posts along the property line, where the paint marks were vertical lines at least two inches in width and at least eight inches in length and the center of the mark was not less than three feet nor more than six feet from the ground or normal water surface.

2004, cc. 604, 615, § 55-334.1; 2019, c. 712.

§ 55.1-2839. Larceny of timber; failure to remit payment to owner; penalty.

A. Any person who buys timber directly from the owner of the land on which the timber is grown shall make payment in full to the owner by the date specified in the written timber sales agreement or, if there is no such written agreement, within 60 days from the date that the buyer removes the timber from the property.

B. Any person who, without the consent of the seller, fails to make payment in full within the time period established by subsection A is guilty of timber theft, which is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and shall be ordered to pay restitution equal to three times the value of the timber established in the timber sale agreement, whether written or oral, in addition to any penalties imposed by the court.

C. No person shall be prosecuted under this section if he remits payment in full within the time period established by subsection A or D to a person he believes in good faith to be the rightful owner of the timber.

D. An owner of land who does not receive payment in full within the time period established in subsection A may notify the timber buyer in writing of his demand for payment at such buyer's last known address by certified mail or by personal delivery. The timber buyer's failure to make payment in full within 10 days after such mailing or personal delivery shall constitute prima facie evidence of such buyer's intent to violate the provisions of subsection A. However, no person who remits payment in full within 10 days after such demand for payment shall be prosecuted for violating the provisions of subsection A, notwithstanding his failure to remit payment in full within the time period established in subsection A.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.2.

§ 55.1-2840. Load tickets required for certain sales of timber; penalty.

A. Whenever a timber buyer acquires timber and the load is sold by weight, cord, or measure of board feet, such buyer shall, upon request of the owner of the land from which the timber is removed, furnish such landowner within 30 days of the request or 30 days from the date that the timber is removed, whichever is later, a true and accurate accounting of each load removed from the property related to the sale.

Such accounting shall include all supporting documentation, such as load tickets or settlement statements provided to the timber buyer by the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood, and shall contain, at a minimum, (i) the name of the facility receiving, weighing, scaling, or measuring the trees, timber, or wood; (ii) the date the trees, timber, or wood was received at the facility; (iii) the name of the producer or logging company; (iv) the type of wood; (v) the type of product; (vi) the weight or scale information, including the total volume if the load is measured by scale, or the gross and tare, or net weights, if the load is measured by weight; and (vii) the weight, scale, or amount of wood deducted and the deduction classification.

B. No load ticket or settlement report shall be required to include price or market value information unless the timber sales agreement, whether written or oral, stipulates that the landowner is to be paid based on a share of the value of the timber removed.

C. Any person who fails to provide the information required by this section, or who knowingly provides false information, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

2019, cc. 348, 353, § 55-334.3.

§ 55.1-2841. Effect of article.

Nothing in this article shall have the effect of precluding any compromise or agreed settlement that the parties in dispute may effect as to the civil remedies provided by this article, nor of barring any other remedy provided for by law.

Code 1950, § 8-910; 1977, c. 624, § 55-335; 2019, c. 712.