Missouri's Purple Paint Statute - AgEBB

Missouri's Purple Paint Statute: A New Way To Protect Your Property From Trespassers

By Deanne Hackman
Research Associate and Adjunct Instructor
Social Science Unit, College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources
University of Missouri - Columbia

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November 8, 1995

CAUTION: Do not rely upon this information for legal advice. See an attorney for legal counseling tailored to your specific situation and needs.

During its 1993 legislative session, the Missouri legislature enacted a new statute pertaining to trespassing. The new law, the Purple Paint Statute (RSMO 569.145), provides yet another way for Missouri landowners to protect their property from trespassers. Landowners can still use "No Trespassing" signs, however the Purple Paint Statute allows landowners to mark trees or posts with purple paint as a warning to would-be trespassers. Just like a "No Trespassing" sign or actual communication to individuals that no trespassing is allowed, the purple paint marks are considered to be adequate notice to the public that no trespassing is allowed on the property.

Missouri's law is similar to one that has been used in Arkansas since 1989. These statutes were enacted to provide landowners with an economical and easy way to keep out unwanted trespassers. The law does not require that property marked with the purple paint also be fenced, thus it is an economical alternative for landowners who do not otherwise need to fence their property. Additionally, it prevents a problem encountered when using "No Trespassing" signs -- purple paint marks can't be taken down, destroyed, or stolen!

Because the Purple Paint Statute is new, many people across the state are not yet aware that the statute exists. Regardless, the statute imputes notice to would-be trespassers. All land marked with purple paint in the manner proscribed by the statute is considered to be adequate notice to the public. It fulfills the same function as a "No Trespassing" sign, a fence, or telling someone not to come onto your property.

Under Missouri's law:
The statute provides that any person trespassing onto property marked by purple paint can be found guilty of a first-degree trespassing charge. Any unauthorized entry onto property marked with the purple paint marks is considered a trespass. First-degree trespassing is a Class B Misdemeanor, with potential punishment of a maximum $500 fine and/or a maximum of 6 months in jail.

Other violations which would subject a trespasser to first-degree trespass are: (1) entering a property posted with "No Trespassing" signs; (2) refusing to leave property once told to do so; and (3) coming onto land fenced against intruders.

Landowners can purchase the purple boundary posting paint at hardware stores across the state. Several paint companies have formulated a latex semi-paste product for the specific purpose of marking property. The paint can be applied in its semi-paste form or sprayed once thinned.