I have few questions for my friends in US who are familiar with the legal system there. It is about definition of trespassing, and property owner’s right when it happens.
It is about the recent case of Guo Degang, the famous Chinese talk show (well, I know it is a funny translation, but what is the right one) actor. That is maybe the hottest news in the recent days before the media was ordered to stop reporting it. Huge amount of people rushed into debating whether they support Guo, or not, and why, but few people really dig into the details of the fact part. Let me try to repeat what is happening. I want to understand how people in the US deal with it, since there is no exact way to define trespassing in China yet.
The event in concern started when two persons claimed to be affiliated with Beijing TV got into the residential area of Guo (an area owned collectively by all the villa owners), and went along the stairs of Guo’s house (the part at the side of his garden), and knocked the door and talked with Mr. Lee, who associated with Guo. After few minutes, Lee physically forced the reporters to leave the house. (People are arguing whether the activity is defined as beating, or pushing, etc).
Here are my questions. Please help me to understand what the rules in America are.
Although in China, most people define trespassing by the fact whether they entered the DOOR of the building, I suspect by the time the reporter entered the gate of the residential area is the time they conducted trespassing. So questions:
- Is it a trespassing when the reporters enter the gate of the residential area? Collectively, the property is owned (well, in China, at least it can be defined as leased from the State for 70 years) by the residents of the residential area. If the reporter don’t have business with any of the residents, is it a trespassing?
- Can the activity of interviewing be defined as legitimate business reason without making appointment with one of the residents behind that gate? I know in some States in US, postman who is going to deliver, policeman when conducting business, and people who can prove to get lost are not trespassing when they enter the property. They are generally defined as Invitee. Are journalists also invitee?
- If entering the residential area, is entering the stairs of the house trespassing?
- If entering the stairs of the house not trespassing, is it trespassing when they knock the door of the house?
If the reporters WAS trespassing, or when told to leave and given enough time to leave, but still does not leave, what is the action the house keeper can do?
- Obviously, he has the right to call police immediately.
- Does the host have the right to physically drive the person away? I heard the idea that although in most States, shooting the trespasser have been strictly forbidden, in States like Taxes, trespassing after dark, and can cause immediate threat to the safety of the owner entitled the owner to shoot the trespasser to death. I am not sure whether it is true or still the case. Does pushing or beating allowed?
- To what extend can the house owner drive the trespasser? Can he only drive him out of the stairs, the garden of his individual house, or drive the trespasser all the way out of the residential area? In US, the case will be people living in an condo. Can he drive the person out of the whole building or just his apartment? If he cannot, who are the legal entity to drive the person out of the condo, if no management company exists for that condo? Even when they have a management company, can one of the house owners do it by himself?
Another set of question relates to the right of journalist and the rights of privacy.
- Does the answer to any of the questions above change if the person accused as trespasser is a journalist?
- Can the journalist take video or photo of the interviewee without him knowing that?
- If the above is illegal, what remedy action can the interviewee take? For example, if I found someone took a naked picture of me in my private area, can I force the person to delete the photo, or have to wait for the person to publicly distribute the photos and sue him? If he refuses to delete, what violate action can I take to avoid future damage?
I hope the answers to the questions at least help to educate people, like me, about the right thing to do in events like this.