You may not think of your conduct as being criminal when you enter someone else’s property without permission, but trespassing laws in North Carolina are very strict. Depending on the circumstances, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. Sanctions for a conviction could include imprisonment, fines, and other punishment. Plus, the matter remains part of your permanent criminal record. With such high stakes for your freedom, wallet, and future, you need skilled representation from a Charlotte trespassing lawyer.
Our trespassing attorneys have years of experience assisting clients in Charlotte, so we’re prepared to take on your case. If you’ve been charged with trespassing on private property or government land, contact Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys at (980) 237-4579 to set up a no-cost consultation with a property crimes lawyer today.
Trespassing Laws in North Carolina
North Carolina law states that it is unlawful to enter or remain upon property belonging to another person, a company, or the government when you don’t have permission to be there. There are two distinct offenses under this law:
- First-degree trespass charges in Charlotte, NC apply if the property you enter is clearly secured in such a way as to communicate an intent to keep out intruders. You can also be arrested for being present in a building that belongs to someone else, or for intruding on the land of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians after having previously been kicked off said property.
- Second-degree trespass charges apply if you’re present upon property after the owner, occupant, or another person with legal rights notifies you to not enter. For purposes of the statute, a notice warning intruders not to enter is sufficient notification.
Domestic Criminal Trespass
Another offense that could lead to trespassing charges is domestic criminal trespass, which is outlined in North Carolina General Statutes § 14-134.3. The offense often arises in the context of a contentious divorce or domestic abuse situation. Because the crime is typically linked to violence, this form of trespassing has serious implications. The law prohibits you from being present on property occupied by your current or former spouse if a court has issued an order forbidding you from being there. The statute includes property occupied by someone you used to live with as if you were married. However, there is an exception if you’re entering the property to visit your minor children.
Domestic criminal trespass is a class 1 misdemeanor, so you face up to 120 days’ incarceration for a conviction. It’s a Class G felony if you trespass upon property designated as a safe zone or facility for victims of domestic violence while armed with a deadly weapon. Your sentence for a felony conviction for this offense ranges from eight to 31 months in prison.
If you’re concerned your charge may be classified as a domestic criminal trespass offense, call a Charlotte trespassing lawyer from our firm right away.
Is it Considered Trespassing if There is No Sign?
According to the statutory definitions, you could be charged with a crime regardless of whether there’s a no trespassing sign. If the owner has clearly secured the property, sending a message that the measures are to keep out intruders, you could be arrested for first-degree trespassing in Charlotte, NC. Second-degree trespassing charges may apply if you ignore a verbal warning from the owner, occupier, or another party in lawful possession of the land.
Penalties for Trespassing in NC
Depending on the nature of the crime, you could be sentenced to both a fine and imprisonment for a conviction on trespassing charges. The following penalties apply:
Depending on the circumstances of your case, your first-degree trespass conviction in Charlotte will be classified as a class 2 misdemeanor, class A1 misdemeanor, class H felony, or class I felony charges. The specifics of the classifications are quite detailed, and the distinctions are based upon the type of property and trespassing intent.
The penalties for each level of the offense are as follows:
Class 2 Misdemeanor
- One to 60 days in jail
- Fines reaching $1,000
Class A1 Misdemeanor
- One to 150 days in jail
- A discretionary fine decided on by the court
Class H Felony
- Four to 25 months in prison
- Substantial fines
Class I Felony
- Three to 12 months in prison
- Significant fines
If you’re facing criminal charges, you should discuss your situation with a Charlotte trespassing lawyer from Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys.
A conviction for this class 3 misdemeanor can bring with it:
- Up to 20 days in jail
- Court ordered fines
What are the Collateral Consequences of a Charlotte Trespassing Conviction?
There are additional implications if you’re convicted of trespassing, since either a misdemeanor or felony will appear on your permanent criminal record. You could face issues with:
- Your current employment
- Future career opportunities
- Child custody and support issues
- Educational opportunities and financial aid
- Obtaining a loan
Defenses Against Trespassing Charges
Trespassing laws in Charlotte, NC are quite complex, so the prosecution could experience challenges in getting a conviction. Always remember that a prosecuting attorney must prove that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. With the help of a Charlotte trespassing lawyer, there may be multiple opportunities to attack the allegations against you. Any questions or uncertainty in the minds of the judge or jury could lead to an acquittal.
In addition, your attorney can tell you about other methods on how to beat a trespassing charge. The details will vary based upon the specifics of your case, but options include:
- Having permission to enter or not being notified by a sign reasonably expected to come to your attention.
- It was necessary for you to enter the property because of an emergency.