What happens if I’m charged with trespassing in North Carolina?

You may be aware of the general concept of trespassing, which involves intentionally intruding on the property of another person without his or her consent, but what you may not know is that NC law treats different types of trespassing in different ways, and each has separate requirements to prove your guilt. For example, trespassing for hunting, hiking, or accidentally passing through are all different types of trespassing.

charged with trespassing

In North Carolina, trespassing is considered a misdemeanor, which is generally a less serious crime than a felony and punishable by fines, community service, or less than one year of incarceration.

According to the June 2020 Executive Order signed by NC’s Governor Cooper, refusing to wear a mask while in public places now may be punishable by a trespassing citation. Additionally, if you are involved in a peaceful protest in Charlotte and are arrested, a common charge you may face is trespassing, because it is illegal to enter or remain on the premises after being asked by the authorities to leave.

Read on to find out what happens if you are charged with trespassing.

Types of Criminal Trespassing & Consequences

  • First-degree trespassing is when a person enters an enclosed property – one that clearly shows the owner’s intent to keep intruders out – without the owner’s consent. First-degree trespassing is a class 2 misdemeanor, and you will face up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Second-degree trespassing is when a person is caught entering someone’s property that has a “no trespassing” or “private property” sign. Additionally, you can be charged with second-degree trespassing if you were asked by the property owner to leave and you did not. This type of trespassing is a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
  • Domestic Criminal Trespassing is when a person banned from their former partner’s property enters and refuses to leave the property. This type of trespassing is a class 1 misdemeanor because of the likelihood of domestic violence. Domestic criminal trespassing is punishable by up to 12 days in county jail and a fine.

Trespassing is generally associated with other criminal intent beyond unauthorized entry. If another crime is committed, then the charge is usually burglary rather than trespassing.

Trespassing and Public Buildings

You probably assume that public buildings “belong” to the public, therefore you are not trespassing on that property. However, it is possible to commit trespass on public property or in a public building because these places are not always open to the public. Public buildings don’t belong to individual members of the public. 

Businesses like grocery or retail stores and restaurants that now require you to wear a face mask inside of them, while open to the public, are not considered public property. You must abide by their rules and regulations while on the property. If you do not, you can be asked to leave, or, if the authorities are called, you can be charged with trespassing. 

If you have been charged with trespassing in the past, you may be eligible to have this misdemeanor expunged from your record. Learn more about the new NC expungement law in this blog.

Criminal charges can have an adverse effect on your personal and professional life. If you have been charged with a crime, make sure that you have an attorney on your side that will fight for the best outcome for your case. Give us a call as soon as possible: 704-512-0606.