Can I Pick Fruit off My Neighbor’s Tree? (Is This Legal?)

can i pick fruit from my neighbors tree

Having fresh and organic fruit within arms reach is a temptation most people have difficulty resisting. What makes this situation even worse is when the fruit is attached to your neighbor’s tree instead of your own. Before you reach for these forbidden fruits, you should probably find out whether or not you can legally pick fruit from your neighbor’s tree. 

It is illegal to pick fruit off your neighbor’s tree. If you get caught, you could get charged with petty theft and trespassing. It is best to ask for permission from your neighbor before you go picking their fruit. 

To avoid any legal issues, you should kindly ask your neighbor if you can have some of their fruit. Yet, we understand how the laws can be confusing and a little blurry.

So, we have unpacked all those laws to help you understand if you can pick your neighbor’s fruit or if you should leave it be. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Picking your neighbor’s fruit is risky business and can possibly land you in some legal trouble.

Instead of taking your neighbor’s fruit, you could try growing some fruit of your own! It is fun and rewarding.

Thankfully, Amazon sells ready-to-ship live fruit trees to get you started:

1. Red June Plum Live Fruit Tree

2. 5ft Peach Tree

3. Kieffer Pear Tree

The Crimes Involved With Picking Your Neighbor’s Fruit

The legal system may not be the first thing you think of when you innocently grab a fresh lemon from your neighbor’s tree. But, it can get to that point if your neighbor catches you and is unhappy about it. 

Can I Pick Fruit off My Neighbor’s Tree?

You should only pick fruit off your neighbor’s tree if you have asked for permission. If you don’t, it is actually considered stealing to take fruit from your neighbor’s tree since they own the tree and everything that comes off of it.

Although picking the fruit may seem like an innocent act, it is actually considered illegal. If you want fruit from your neighbor’s tree, you can have a friendly chat with them and ask if it is okay.

They likely have more than enough fruit and are willing to share.

Is It Illegal to Steal Fruit From Neighbor’s Trees?

It is indeed illegal to steal fruit from your neighbor’s tree since you do not own the tree so you are actually removing their property which is considered theft. 

Not only will you be committing theft, but you will also be committing trespassing by going into your neighbor’s yard without their permission to pick the fruit. 

If your neighbor catches you stealing their fruit, they have the right to call the police on you and you may be charged with petty theft

Is Picking Fruit Illegal?

Picking fruit can be considered illegal depending on where the tree is located. If the tree is located on public property, then it may be fair game considering your local municipality laws.

But, if the tree is located on private property, such as your neighbor’s yard, then picking their fruit is illegal if you do not obtain their permission. 

You will be committing petty theft by picking your neighbor’s fruit since you are removing their property and depriving them of the fruit- technically, even though they likely have plenty.

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Is Stealing Fruit From My Neighbor’s Tree a Crime?

Stealing fruit from your neighbor’s tree is indeed a crime. Your neighbor owns that tree since it is on their property, they may even have bought the tree. Therefore, you are stealing their property. 

This is considered petty theft. They may even accuse you of trespassing since you went on to their property without their permission to pick the fruit.

If you want to indulge in your neighbor’s fruit, you should consider having a friendly chat with them and ask for permission.

When Is It Okay to Pick Fruit From Your Neighbor’s Tree?

It is only okay to pick fruit from your neighbor’s tree if you have received their permission first. If you do not ask, then you are actually committing theft and trespassing.

You should follow basic neighborly etiquette when it comes to your neighbor’s fruit. Stealing it would be the same thing as walking into their garden and taking their tomatoes. 

So, the polite thing to do is ask your neighbor for their permission- they likely will be more than willing to share their fruit and will be grateful that you asked instead of stealing. 

When Is It Not Okay to Pick Fruit From Your Neighbor’s Tree?

It is not okay to pick fruit from your neighbor’s tree if you do not have their permission. Without permission, you shouldn’t be picking the fruit or setting foot in their yard. If you do not obtain their permission, you will be technically stealing and trespassing. 

It’s important to be a kind neighbor and ask if you can pick some of their fruit before you go sneakily into their yard and steal it, instead. If they catch you and are offended they can report you to the police. 

What Is the Punishment for Picking Your Neighbor’s Fruit?

The punishment for picking your neighbor’s fruit can be serious. You may be fined up to $1000 and possibly spend time in county jail. If you are lucky, you can be let off with a warning. 

The punishment for petty theft will be determined by the value of the amount of fruit you stole. If you are convicted, you will be charged with a misdemeanor.

You may have to spend up to six months in county jail and or pay a fine of up to $1000. 

You might also enjoy our post on If Your Neighbor Can Steal Your Water 

Laws Regarding Overhanging Fruit

While it is pretty clear that going into your neighbor’s yard and stealing their fruit is a crime, what happens when the fruit is overhanging into your property? This is a great question. Let us explain how that works.

Can You Pick Your Neighbor’s Overhanging Fruit?

Local laws are divided when it comes to deciding whether or not you can eat the overhanging fruit of your neighbor’s tree. Some cities allow it and some don’t. So, it is best to check with your local authorities before you consider taking your neighbor’s fruit.

The rules regarding whether or not you are allowed to pick your neighbor’s fruit if the tree is overhanging in your yard become a little cloudy in this circumstance.

Some areas state that the fruit still belongs to the owner of the tree even if it is overhanging onto your property.

While on the other hand, some areas believe that if the fruit is hanging on to your property, then it becomes your property and you are allowed to pick it. 

Regardless, if it feels wrong to pick your neighbor’s fruit then it probably is and you should ask for their permission before you take the fruit. 

You might also enjoy our post on If Your Neighbor Can Claim Your Land By Mowing It

Who Owns Fruit Hanging Over a Fence?

Deciding who owns fruit that hangs over a fence depends on where you live as many cities are divided on this subject. Some places believe that it still belongs to the owner of the tree and some places believe that it belongs to the property where it is overhanging.

If the fruit tree is coming from a public tree and is overhanging your fence, then you are actually entitled to this fruit since it is coming from public property. 

But, if the tree is coming from your neighbor’s tree, then you should likely call local authorities to figure out who the fruit belongs to. This applies to whether the tree is dead or alive.

Can You Pick Fruit Hanging Over a Fence in California?

In California, there is no written law about who owns the fruit hanging over a fence but there is a general consensus that if the fruit is hanging in your property, or in a public space, then it is ripe for the pickin’.

This makes sense since there is an abundance of fruit growing all over California and it would definitely be very hard to resist fresh fruit all over your yard or in the street.

However, going straight into your neighbor’s yard to pick their fruit is still forbidden. 

What Are My Rights With Overhanging Trees?

There are general rights that apply to overhanging trees but different ones may apply to you depending on where you live. But, in general, if a tree is overhanging into your property, you have the right to trim and maintain the tree. 

Since the tree is coming into your property, you now have the right to take care of it as you naturally would. You are allowed to trim the branches but in some cases, you are not allowed to pick the fruit if there are any.

You have to wait for the fruit to naturally fall before you can take it. 

Who Is Responsible for Cutting Overhanging Tree Branches?

The responsibility for cutting overhanging tree branches can land on both the owner of the tree and the person who owns the property where the tree branches are overhanging. It all depends on your local laws. 

This means that you have the right to trim the branches that are hanging in your yard. Since the owner of the tree is also responsible, you can ask them if they would be so kind to trim the branches that are hanging into your yard. 

Is It My Responsibility to Cut Overhanging Tree Branches?

The responsibility to cut overhanging tree branches lands on both you and the owner of the tree. If the tree branches are bothering you, then you have the right to cut down the branches. 

If you do not want to cut down the branches, then you can kindly ask your neighbor if he wouldn’t mind. If they refuse, then you should cut the branches yourself to avoid any neighborly drama.

You might also enjoy our post on Neighbors That Don’t Mow Their Lawn

How Do I Ask My Neighbor to Trim Their Fruit Tree?

The best way to ask your neighbor to trim their fruit tree is to visit them in person or call them and ask them kindly to trim their branches. Explain to them why the fruit tree is bothering you and hopefully they will understand.

You can explain to them why the fruit tree is bothering you whether that be that you don’t want to clean up the fruit or that the fruit is attracting unwanted animals into your yard.

You can only hope that they will be sympathetic towards you and end up trimming the tree. 

Can I Cut Down My Neighbor’s Overhanging Tree Branches?

Depending on your local laws, you will likely be allowed to cut overhanging tree branches that are coming into your yard. Generally speaking, tree branches that are entering your property, now become your responsibility.

This law is set up because it is pretty difficult for your neighbor to enter your lawn and maintain the tree, especially if there is a fence between you and your neighbor.

This law respects your privacy by preventing your neighbor from having an excuse to enter your yard. 

Related Questions

Can I Make My Neighbor Cut His Tree?

You can’t technically force your neighbor to cut down his tree but there are definitely some actions you can take such as speaking to them directly or writing a letter to your local authorities.

To maintain your neighborly relationship, you should speak to your neighbor directly about cutting his tree. You should go into the conversation with an open mind because you never know if they have a special attachment to it.

Explain to them why the tree is bothering you and suggest that cutting it down or trimming it will help solve your issues. If he doesn’t agree, suggest a common ground that may interest him. 

If all fails, you can write a suggestion letter to your city explaining why the tree is causing you issues and ask them for help with persuading your neighbor. 

How Do I Stop People From Stealing My Fruit?

The best way to stop people from stealing your fruit is to set up a fence either around your property or around your fruit trees. You can also set up No Stealing or No Trespassings signs on your fence. 

This will let people know that your fruit tree is not up for grabs and that you will not tolerate stealing. You can also write hand-written letters if you cannot find any appropriate signs clearly stating that you do not want anyone stealing your fruit. 

Who Owns Fruit Hanging Over a Fence in the Philippines?

Laws in the Phillippines states that if the fruit is still hanging on the tree, then it still belongs to the owner of the tree. But if the fruit has fallen, it now belongs to the owner of the land on which it has fallen. 

This does mean that you can shake the branches so the fruit falls off- the fruit has to naturally fall from the tree. You are also not allowed to cut the branches of the tree to then obtain the fruit.

All matters regarding the tree are in control of the owner of the tree only. 

Can You Pick Fruit From Public Trees?

Fruit from public trees is generally up for grabs depending on your local city laws. But, in most cases, the fruit is yours for the pickin’, just don’t overdo it. 

So, the next time you’re walking down a path and a juicy fruit tree is tempting you, don’t feel that you have to sneak anything, they are all yours! Just make sure that you only take a couple- taking a whole bag full might be frowned upon. 

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, there are some cases in which picking fruit from a tree is totally fine, such as when the tree is on local property.

But, when you’re dealing with your neighbor’s tree, you shouldn’t go picking fruit that isn’t yours. It could land you in some serious trouble.

Instead, ask your neighbor politely if you can have some of their fruit. They may be more than happy to share with you and they will definitely appreciate that you asked instead of stealing. 

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