Charlotte Trespass Attorney

Charlotte Trespass Attorney

Trespassing is defined as entering private property without the owner’s permission. You may not even be aware you are committing a crime until it is too late. Trespassing penalties range from a misdemeanor slap on the wrist to a serious felony charge, and the factors of the case determine the severity of the potential penalties. If you are facing trespassing charges in Charlotte, contact a Charlotte trespass attorney as soon as you can. You could be facing life-altering consequences.

Charlotte Trespass Attorney

Is Trespassing a Serious Crime?

Trespassing laws in North Carolina are split into several distinct categories, and the penalties for each depend on the severity of each charge. While it may not seem like a big deal to some, the act of trespassing carries severe consequences, especially for repeat or blatant offenders. Hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you make sense of the different types of trespassing you may have committed. Here are some of the various types of trespassing you could be charged with:

  • Second-degree trespassing: You are committing second-degree trespassing if you willfully remained on someone’s property after they expressly demanded that you leave. It also applies if you ignore a posted sign that reads “No Trespassing” or signage conveying a similar sentiment. Second-degree trespassing is a Class 3 misdemeanor that carries with it a potential penalty of a $200 fine and up to 20 days in jail.
  • First-degree trespassing: You are committing first-degree trespassing if you willfully enter a property that was obviously designated as off-limits to anyone who does not have permission from the owner. Basically, if there is a locked gate or a fence, but you cut through it or climb over it, you have committed a trespassing crime. First-degree trespassing is a Class 2 misdemeanor that can result in a potential penalty of a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
  • Domestic criminal trespass: This crime is a different type of trespassing offense that is far more serious. Domestic criminal trespass occurs between two parties who were previously in a relationship or who once lived together. They have since separated and are now living in different places. To be charged with domestic criminal trespass, one party must unlawfully enter the living space of the other party after having expressly been warned not to do so by the court.
    This crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries with it a potential penalty of a fine set by a judge’s discretion and of up to 120 days in jail. The charge can be elevated to a Class G felony if the trespasser has a deadly weapon and the victim is in a domestic violence haven or a safe house. In this case, the trespasser faces a potential prison sentence of 47 months.
  • Trespass on a utility company: If a trespasser willfully breaks into a utility office, such as an electricity supplier, a public water facility, a sewage treatment plant, or a natural gas facility, the trespassing charge is considered an A1 misdemeanor, especially if they broke through a gate or some other type of barrier. Upon conviction, the trespasser could be looking at paying a fine set by a judge’s discretion and up to 150 days in jail.
  • Felony trespass: Upon unlawfully entering a utility office, if the trespasser intended to sabotage the utility works in some way or put others in danger, the charge is elevated to a Class H felony. This charge carries with it a sentence of 39 months in prison.

Common Ways to be Accused of Trespassing

Accusing someone of trespassing can mean many different things. Trespassing is fairly subjective, and building a case takes time, effort, money, and dedication. The following are just some of the ways you could be accused of trespassing:

  • Entering property that you are well aware does not belong to you.
  • Remaining on the property after you have been told to leave.
  • Entering property with the owner’s permission but refusing to leave after that permission has been rescinded.
  • Refusing to leave a public building after being told to leave by a person who works in the building.
  • Entering someone else’s property to interfere with their personal or professional business.
  • Entering someone else’s property with the intent to damage the property in some way.
  • Unlawfully occupying someone else’s property, such as squatting.
  • Cutting down trees or other plants that are growing on someone else’s property.

What If There Is No Sign?

You can be charged with trespassing in Charlotte, North Carolina even if there is no blatant sign that says “No Trespassing.” If the property is obviously keeping people out with a fence, a gate, or some other sort of barrier, that sends the message that the owner is trying to keep out trespassers.

The courts are likely to determine that by ignoring that message, you trespassed onto their property when you proceeded onto the property anyway. Second-degree trespassing charges may still apply if you willfully ignore the property owner’s verbal warnings not to trespass onto their land.

Consequences of a Trespassing Conviction

Trespassing is a serious crime and, as such, carries with it very real consequences for one’s future. If you are charged and convicted of any type of trespassing, you will have a criminal record. A criminal record can impact your career, your family, your finances, and everything else in your life.

A criminal record may impact your ability to get or keep custody of your children if you separate from your significant other. You may also have difficulty finding steady work once you have served your time, as your job is not obligated to keep your position open or hire you back. If you are an immigrant, you may face even harsher penalties, such as deportation.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Trespassing can be a complicated charge to navigate. You may not think you have done anything wrong, especially nothing criminal. Maybe there wasn’t a sign posted. Maybe you used to own the property. Maybe you thought the property owner did give you permission.

Regardless of why you may have committed a trespassing offense, the trespassing laws in North Carolina are strict. You will need someone in your corner who knows the ins and outs of trespassing law and understands what is at stake for you and your future.

Depending on the severity of your case, you could be looking at a misdemeanor charge or even a serious felony charge. That means imprisonment, hefty fines, and a criminal record are on the table for you in the immediate future. It is never recommended to navigate those difficult circumstances without professional support.

False Claims

A trespassing charge could be based on false claims. In this case, you absolutely need to hire an experienced trespassing attorney who can help you document the entire situation and ultimately prove that you did not trespass. You may know you are innocent, but now you have to convince a judge and jury of your innocence or risk being found guilty. The following are some steps you can take to defend yourself against false claims of trespassing:

  • Stay the course: You know you did nothing wrong. So does your attorney. Don’t get overemotional. Remain as calm as you can. Do not retaliate against the party accusing you of trespassing. Trust in your attorney and let them direct your defense.
  • Document whatever you can: Document your whereabouts during the alleged trespassing. Interview any witnesses who can corroborate your alibi. Recover any camera footage that places you elsewhere or supports your case in any way.
  • Gather evidence: Collect any and all evidence that absolves you of any wrongdoing. If you are innocent of trespassing, there likely won’t be evidence that you did anything. Having evidence that backs up your side of the story can only help your case.
  • Be honest: If you truly are dealing with a case of false claims, then you have nothing to hide. Be completely honest with all parties, particularly your attorney. They can only help you if they know everything that you know.

Defenses Against a Trespassing Charge

It is not always easy to prove trespassing intent. The laws on trespassing in North Carolina can get complicated when trying to obtain a conviction. You are still innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is easier said than done with a trespassing case. There are options to try and argue why you may have trespassed onto the property:

  • You can claim you did have permission to enter the property. This can create uncertainty for a jury and a judge. It becomes a case of “he said, she said.” It is possible that neither party can prove permission was given or not given. Consent can come in writing, but it can also be given verbally. Minors and people who are mentally incapacitated are unable to legally give consent.
  • You can claim there was an emergency happening on the property, or at least you thought there was, and you intended to help. That is why you entered without permission.
  • You can claim that you only went onto the property to reclaim property that was stolen from you. This defense is used largely when somebody takes something of yours and refuses to return it. How your goods got onto the property is anybody’s guess, but you went there to get them back.
  • You can claim that you simply did not know you were trespassing. This may be harder to prove, especially if there are signs posted or you are documented ignoring those signs. An accidental trespass removes intent from the case, which is crucial for a conviction.


Q: What Is the Penalty For a Misdemeanor Trespassing Charge in North Carolina?

A: If you are found guilty of first-degree trespass, you can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are found guilty of second-degree trespass, you can be sentenced to up to 20 days in jail and a fine of up to $200. If you are found guilty of domestic criminal trespass, you can be sentenced to up to 120 days in jail and a fine decided by a judge.

Q: What Is the Trespassing Law in Charlotte, North Carolina?

A: North Carolina state law states that it is illegal to enter a dwelling or property that does not belong to you without the owner’s express permission. Whether the property is owned by an individual, a group, or a government entity, it is a criminal offense to trespass. Most cases fall under the categories of first-degree trespass or second-degree trespass.

Q: What Is the Worst Charge for Trespassing?

A: The worst charge you can face for trespassing is first-degree criminal trespass, which occurs when the person in question willfully enters or remains in a structure or property owned by someone else who has not permitted them to be there. First-degree trespass has the potential to become a Class H or Class I felony, which can land the trespasser in prison for 39 months.

Q: What Is Second-Degree Trespassing in North Carolina?

A: You are committing second-degree trespassing if you willfully remained on someone’s property after they expressly demanded you leave, or if you ignore a posted sign that reads “No Trespassing” or something similar to that effect. Second-degree trespassing is a Class 3 misdemeanor that carries with it a potential sentence of up to 20 days in jail and a fine of $200.

Contact a Trespass Lawyer Today

Dealing with a trespassing charge can be an unpredictable, difficult situation to navigate alone. Proving intent is not easy, especially in a trespassing case. It is important to have an experienced criminal trespass lawyer on your side during this whole process. The Law Office of Kevin L. Barnett is prepared to provide you with a dedicated legal defense.

We can help you review your options, understand the severity of your situation, and prepare for the next course of action that fits your case. A trespassing conviction may seem like a minor crime, but it could alter the course of your life for the worse and bring down everything around you. Contact us as soon as you can to schedule a consultation. It’s time you got back to your normal.


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