Criminal Trespass

North Carolina has multiple state laws addressing criminal trespass violations. Domestic criminal trespass applies solely in cases involving married or otherwise romantically-involved couples, while non-domestic trespass violations are separated into two degrees of offenses.

Trespassing is often a misdemeanor, but certain violations can result in felony charges. People can often be charged with this crime as the result of honest misunderstandings between property owners and tenants or other guests.

Lawyer for Criminal Trespass Arrests in Raleigh, NC

Were you recently arrested for any kind of alleged criminal trespass violation in the Research Triangle area? You should not say anything to authorities until you have legal representation. The Coolidge Law Firm represents individuals accused of all kinds of property crimes in communities throughout Wake County, including Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Apex, and many others.

Raleigh criminal defense attorney David Coolidge also helps students at such local colleges as Shaw University, Wake Tech, Duke University, Meredith College, and North Carolina State University (NCSU). He can review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free initial consultation.


North Carolina Criminal Trespass Information Center


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Criminal Trespass Charges in Wake County

Under North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.13, alleged offenders commit second degree trespass if, without authorization, they enter or remain on the premises of another:

  • After they have been notified not to enter or remain there by the owner, by a person in charge of the premises, by a lawful occupant, or by another authorized person; or
  • Signs are posted, in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, with notice not to enter the premises.

Second degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor offense. Under North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.12(a), alleged offenders commit first degree trespass if, without authorization, they enter or remain:

  • On premises of another so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate clearly an intent to keep out intruders; or
  • In a building of another

First degree trespass is a Class 2 misdemeanor, but the violation above can become a Class I felony punishable by a fine of no less than $1,0000 under North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.12(f) if any of the following circumstances exist:

  • The offense occurs on real property where the person has reentered after having previously been removed pursuant to the execution of a valid order or writ for possession.
  • The offense occurs under color of title where the person has knowingly created or provided materially false evidence of an ownership or possessory interest.

A violation of North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.12(a) can also become a Class A1 misdemeanor offense under North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.12(c) if the alleged offender actually entered a building, or it was necessary for the person to climb over, go under, or otherwise surmount a fence or other barrier to reach the facility, and the alleged offense was committed on the premises of any of the following:

  • A facility that is owned or operated by an electric power supplier as defined in North Carolina General Statute § 62-133.8(a)(3) and that is either an electric generation facility, a transmission substation, a transmission switching station, a transmission switching structure, or a control center used to manage transmission operations or electrical power generating at multiple plant locations.
  • Any facility used or available for use in the collection, treatment, testing, storing, pumping, or distribution of water for a public water system.
  • Any facility, including any liquefied natural gas storage facility or propane air facility, that is owned or operated by a natural gas local distribution company, natural gas pipeline carrier operating under a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Utilities Commission, municipal corporation operating a municipally owned gas distribution system, or regional natural gas district organized and operated pursuant to Article 28 of Chapter 160A of the North Carolina General Statutes used for transmission, distribution, measurement, testing, regulating, compression, control, or storage of natural gas.
  • Any facility used or operated for agricultural activities, as that term is defined in G.S. 106-581.1.

Violations of North Carolina General Statute § 14-159.12(c) can further be enhanced to Class H felony offenses if:

  • The alleged offense was committed with the intent to disrupt the normal operation of any of the facilities described in subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of this section; and/or
  • The alleged offense involved an act that placed either the alleged offender or others on the premises at risk of serious bodily injury.

An alleged offender commits the offense of domestic criminal trespass under North Carolina General Statute § 14-134.3 if that person “enters after being forbidden to do so or remains after being ordered to leave by the lawful occupant, upon the premises occupied by a present or former spouse or by a person with whom the alleged offender has lived as if married.” The alleged victim and alleged offender must have been living apart, and evidence that the parties are living apart can include, but is not limited to:

  • A judicial order of separation;
  • A court order directing the alleged offender to stay away from the premises occupied by the complainant;
  • An agreement, whether verbal or written, between the complainant and the alleged offender that they shall live separate and apart, and such parties are in fact living separate and apart; or
  • Separate places of residence for the complainant and the alleged offender.

Domestic criminal trespass is a Class 1 misdemeanor, but can become a Class G felony if the alleged offender trespassed upon property operated as a safe house or haven for victims of domestic violence and was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the alleged offense.


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Criminal Trespass Penalties in Raleigh

North Carolina’s “structured sentencing” system of punishing criminals imposes one of three kinds of possible punishments: An active punishment involves an alleged offender being incarcerated in the state prison system, an intermediate punishment involves a sentence of supervised probation as well as other possible conditions, and a community punishment is any sentence other than an active punishment.

In misdemeanor cases, number of previous convictions that alleged offenders have determine their prior conviction levels. No prior convictions is Prior Conviction Level I, one to four prior convictions is Prior Conviction Level II, and five or more prior convictions is Prior Conviction Level III. It is important to note that an alleged offender accused of a Class 3 misdemeanor who has no more than three prior convictions can only be ordered to pay a fine. All other alleged misdemeanants are punished as follows:

Class

Prior Conviction Level I

Prior Conviction Level II

Prior Conviction Level III

A1

1-60 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

1-75 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

1-150 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

1

1-45 days Community Punishment

1-45 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

1-120 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

2

1-30 days Community Punishment

1-45 days Community or Intermediate Punishment

1-60 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

3

Fine Only

One to three prior convictions: Fine Only
Four prior convictions: 1-15 days Community or Intermediate Punishment

1-20 days Community, Intermediate, or Active Punishment

Felony cases involve six different prior record levels that are determined by the number of points an alleged offender is assigned based on that person’s criminal record. Felony offenses also have three different punishment ranges: a mitigated range for cases with mitigating factors, an aggravated range for cases with aggravating factors, and a presumptive range for cases with an equal amount of or no mitigating factors and aggravating factors.Felony convictions also carry a mandatory nine-month period of post-supervision release.

Felony criminal trespass offenses are punishable as follows:

 

Prior Record Level I
(0-1 point)

Prior Record Level II
(2-5 points)

Prior Record Level III
(6-9 points)

Prior Record Level IV
(10-13 points)

Prior Record Level V
(14-17 points)

Prior Record Level VI
(18+ points)

Class G

Active

Active

Active

Active

Active

Active

Aggravated

13-16 months

14-18 months

17-21 months

19-24 months

22-27 months

25-31 months

Presumptive

10-13 months

12-14 months

13-17 months

15-19 months

17-22 months

20-25 months

Mitigated

8-10 months

9-12 months

10-13 months

11-15 months

13-17 months

15-20 months

Class H

Community, Intermediate, or Active

Intermediate or Active

Intermediate or Active

Intermediate or Active

Intermediate or Active

Active

Aggravated

6-8 months

8-10 months

10-12 months

11-14 months

15-19 months

20-25 months

Presumptive

5-6 months

6-8 months

8-10 months

9-11 months

12-15 months

16-20 months

Mitigated

4-5 months

4-6 months

6-8 months

7-9 months

9-12 months

12-16 months

Class I

Community

Community or Intermediate

Intermediate

Intermediate or Active

Intermediate or Active

Intermediate or Active

Aggravated

6-8 months

6-8 months

6-8 months

8-10 months

9-11 months

10-12 months

Presumptive

4-6 months

4-6 months

5-6 months

6-8 months

7-9 months

8-10 months

Mitigated

3-4 months

3-4 months

4-5 months

4-6 months

5-7 months

6-8 months


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North Carolina Criminal Trespass Resources

State v. Lawson, 101 N.C. 717 (1888) — J. W. Thomas forbade the alleged offender from going on his land, and the alleged offender agreed in writing to do so. Pylandus Nelson was a tenant of Thomas who invited the alleged offender onto the property in order to speak to him. The trial court declined to provide the jury with the alleged offender’s requested instruction and he was found guilty, but the Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed, holding that “the tenant being in possession had the right, in the absence of any evidence to show that there were restrictions upon his tenancy to the contrary, to invite such persons as his business interest or pleasure might suggest, to come upon the premises so in his possession for any lawful purpose.”

Land Ownership, Liability, and the Law in North Carolina — North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University prepared this publication as a public service to acquaint people with certain legal issues and concerns. You can learn more about common law in North Carolina, minimizing liability, and special liability concerns for different property uses in this article. You can find the state laws relating to landowner liability and trespasser responsibility under Chapter 38A and Chapter 38B, respectively, of the North Carolina General Statutes.


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The Coolidge Law Firm | Raleigh Criminal Trespass Defense Attorney

If you were recently arrested in the Research Triangle area for any kind of alleged criminal trespass, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Coolidge Law Firm aggressively defends clients in Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, Zebulon, Morrisville, and many surrounding areas of Wake County.

David Coolidge is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Raleigh who also represents students at such schools in the area as Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), William Peace University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Call (919) 239-8448 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.


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