James K. Minick

James K. Minick

As a property owner, an individual is generally considered to be the master of their land. As such, they typically control who is allowed to access and enjoy their property. Trespassing offenses are crimes that prevent a land landowner from fully enjoying their property due to unauthorized individuals gaining access to their property. As a society, there is a public policy interest in giving landowners a criminal means of preventing trespassers and deterring individuals from wandering onto another person’s property.

The offenses listed below outline the elements required for each offense and the potential punishments an individual faces upon conviction. In order for the State to convict an individual of any of the trespassing offenses, the State must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

First-Degree Trespass

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Without authorization
  2. Enter or remain
  3. On premises of another so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate an intent to keep out intruders or
  4. In a building of another

An affirmative defense to trespassing is that an individual enters onto land with a reasonable belief that that they had a legal right to enter, even if they did not.

Punishment

If a person is guilty of first-degree trespass, they are guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.12(b).

Second-Degree Trespass

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. Without authorization
  2. Enter or remain
  3. On the premises of another
  4. After having been notified not to enter or remain there by the owner, a person in charge of the premises, a lawful occupant, or another authorized person or
  5. When the premises are posted, in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, with notice not to enter the premises

Punishment

If a person is guilty of second-degree trespass, they are guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.13(b).

Domestic Criminal Trespass

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

  1. After having been forbidden to enter or after having been ordered to leave
  2. By the lawful occupant
  3. Enters or refuses to leave
  4. The premises occupied by:
    1. The charged person’s present or former spouse or
    2. Another person with whom the charged person has lived as if married
    3. At a time when the charged person and the present or former spouse (or person with whom the charged person has lived as if married) are living apart

Punishment

If a person is guilty of domestic criminal trespass, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-134.3(a)(4). That charge can be turned into a Class G felony if the person trespassed on property that is being used a safe house or haven for victims of domestic violence and the person was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the offense.

Forcible Trespass

Elements

A person is guilty if they:

    1. Make an unpermitted and unlawful entry on premises or
    2. Willfully refuse to leave the premises are being ordered to do so
    3. A
      1. Using force against the occupant or
      2. Threatening to use force or
      3. Appearing so as to inspire fear
      4. When the occupant is present on the premises and
      5. Is in peaceful possession of the premises

Punishment

If a person is guilty of forcible trespass, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

 

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