Domestic Criminal Trespass

After a couple has gone through a divorce or separation, one spouse will leave the shared home and generally not be allowed back. Returning to the home without the permission of the ex-spouse is considered domestic criminal trespass.

The crime can also involve individuals who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship but have separated and are now living apart. When this happens, there is a lot of ambiguity whether or not a spouse can return to the property while separated.

Maybe you returned to the property to collect your things, or you wanted to see your children. If you have been arrested though, you will need the help of the attorneys at the Coolidge Law Firm to fight these allegations. The laws governing domestic criminal trespass are confusing. Instead of dealing with it on your own, contact the Coolidge Law Firm.

We believe everyone deserves the right to legal counsel and to have their side of the story heard. To consult with the Coolidge Law Firm about your case, call (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free consultation. We will answer any questions you have regarding the charges and formulate a defense plan in your best interest.

The Coolidge Law Firm defends clients of domestic crimes in Wake County communities including Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Garner, Apex, and many others.

Domestic Criminal Trespass vs. Trespass

You may be wondering what makes domestic criminal trespass different from standard trespass. Both crimes involve entering property after being forbidden to do so or remaining inside after being ordered to leave, but what separates them is the relationship with the owner of the property.

For trespass to be domestic criminal trespass, you must have been married to or lived as if you were married to the party alleging you trespassed. You are also required to be living apart from the party alleging the crime at the time of the offense.  North Carolina law requires the alleging party to prove the couple was living apart.

Evidence proving a couple is living apart can include the following:

  • Court order of separation
  • Court order directing one spouse to stay away from the property
  • Agreement between spouses stating they will live apart (verbal or written)
  • Evidence proving the spouses live in separate residences

Domestic criminal trespass often arises from various scenarios. Some couples may be uncertain about the separation, minor children may be involved, or one spouse has come to collect their belongings. You cannot be charged with the crime if you and the alleging party have a court order or separation agreement allowing you to enter the property to visit minor children.

How is Domestic Criminal Trespass Charged in North Carolina?

Domestic criminal trespass can range from a misdemeanor to felony charge. As with other crimes, how the offense is charged will depend on factors of the case. Generally, domestic criminal trespass as described above is a class 1 misdemeanor if you enter or remain inside property after being told to leave. The property is required to be once shared between you and the alleging party. A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by one to 120 days in jail.

The offense is a class G felony if you trespassed on property acting as a safe house for victims of domestic violence armed with a deadly weapon.

A class G felony is punishable by eight to 31 months in prison. A deadly weapon is not defined in the North Carolina General Statutes but is considered any weapon that could be used to kill someone. This can include guns, knives, and blunt objects. Items not thought of as deadly weapons, such as pillows, can also be classified as such if they were used to kill.

Violation of Protection Order

It’s common for domestic criminal trespass to also be a violation of a protection order. A protection order, often referred to as a restraining order, prohibits a perpetrator of domestic violence from doing certain acts. The most common order is to stay away from the individual who filed the order.

You could face charges for both domestic criminal trespass and violation of a protection order if you’re the subject of the order and you trespassed onto the property of the individual who filed the order. Generally, violation of a protection order is charged as a class A1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 150 days in jail.

Visit our page on violation of protection orders for more information.

Additional Resources for Domestic Criminal Trespass

Domestic Criminal Trespass | North Carolina General Statues – Follow the link to read the section of the General Statutes over domestic criminal trespass. You can find out the legal definition of the crime, a list of evidence proving a couple lives apart, and factors that could elevate charges. 

Violation of Protection Order | North Carolina General Statutes – Follow this link to the General Statutes to learn more about violating protection orders. You can learn about situations where the crime is elevated and whether or not law enforcement needs a warrant to make an arrest for the violation.

Raleigh Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you have been charged with domestic criminal trespass, it is imperative you contact legal representation. Because of how the law is structured, many individuals have been wrongly accused and even convicted of the crime. Here at the Coolidge Law Firm, we want to make sure the facts of your case are heard.

We will do everything in our power to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Take the first step in building your defense and contact the Coolidge Law Firm. Call (919) 239-8448 or submit your information in the online contact form to schedule a free consultation. The Coolidge Law Firm defends clients of domestic crimes in Wake County areas such as Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Garner, and Apex.


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