Trespassing laws in Carteret County are strict. In North Carolina, trespassing is defined as entering another person’s property without permission or in violation of a “no trespassing” sign. Trespassing is a class 2 misdemeanor, but several different factors can elevate a simple misdemeanor trespass to a more serious felony charge.
Discuss Your Case With a Carteret County Trespassing Attorney
Attorney Joel Hancock has extensive experience representing Carteret County clients in various criminal matters, including trespassing. If you’ve been charged with trespassing on government or private property, contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can protect your rights.
Carteret County & North Carolina’s Trespassing Laws
North Carolina, it is a crime to enter or remain on someone else’s property when you don’t have permission to be there. Trespassing on property owned by another individual, a company, or the government is considered a crime. North Carolina recognizes two distinct trespassing crimes, first and second-degree trespassing. First-degree occurs when a person:
Entered or remained on another person’s property without their permission, and
Entered an enclosure that was secured with the intent to keep intruders out
Examples of enclosed or secured property include a locked building or a fenced yard. First-degree also includes being present in a building that belongs to another person or intruding on the land of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians after having previously been kicked off of the property. First-degree is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. Trespassing charges can escalate to a Class A felony if the intruder intended to disrupt the normal operations of a business or placed others at risk of injury or death. Class A felonies include a sentence of up to 39 months in prison.
Second-degree charges happen when someone enters another person’s property after being expressly told not to enter. A notice warning intruders, such as a “no trespassing” sign, is sufficient to provide notice. Second-degree is a class 3 misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 20 days in jail on a $200 fine.
Domestic Criminal Trespassing
Domestic Criminal Trespass involves married, separated, divorced, or former partners that have lived together in the past entering the premises of the victim after being informed not to enter. A former spouse or partner can face domestic trespassing charges if he or she violates:
An order of separation
A court mandated restraining order
A verbal or written agreement for the parties to live apart
The parties are living at separate locations when the trespass occurs
If the trespasser commits domestic criminal trespassing with a deadly weapon, the charges can become felony-level charges. When the victim is living at a safe house and a domestic partner or former partner trespasses into the safehouse, he or she can face a Class D felony and a prison sentence of up to 47 months.
Prosecutors Must Prove Intent
In order to convict a defendant of trespassing, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to enter or stay on a piece of property without permission. One of the best defenses is claiming that you did not intend to enter someone else’s property. Perhaps you thought you were in a public park or on property owned by a friend or relative when you were accused of trespassing.
Attorney Joel Hancock focuses on working with each client to create a unique criminal defense strategy that works best for their case. After investigating your case, he will work with you to build a legal defense that shows that you didn’t have any intent to be on the property.
Defenses in North Carolina
Prosecutors can convict offenders of trespassing if there was a clear “no trespassing” sign and the defendant proceeded to enter the property without permission. A sign can be an incriminating piece of evidence against defendants in North Carolina. However, in some cases, a sign may not be visible due to foliage.
Under North Carolina law, if you as a trespasser leave the property immediately and don’t return, prosecutors cannot charge you. In most cases, you will only be arrested if the landowner tries to press charges. Additionally, a defendant may be able to show that he or she entered the premises with the intent to save lives or prevent the death or serious injury of another person, giving the defendant implied consent to enter the property.
Whatever the circumstances of your unique case, attorney Joel Hancock will work diligently to examine the facts and determine the best legal defense. He may be able to successfully get your charges reduced from first to second-degree or get your case dismissed.
Advocating for the Best Outcome in Your Case
In many cases, judges will be lenient when determining the sentencing for a person convicted of trespassing. Attorney Joel Hancock will gather evidence of any mitigating factors in your case, such as whether the trespass occurred during the day or the night. Other mitigating factors include whether they were occupants in the structure or on the property when the trespass occurred and whether or not this is habitual behavior for the defendant. Your attorney can help you petition the court to offer you community service or a reduced prison stay based on these mitigating factors. Some of the best outcomes for sentencing after a conviction include:
re-education classes to modify cognitive behaviors
plea deals or Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC)
expungement of criminal charges
Contact a Trespassing Defense Attorney in Carteret County
Even if you entered another person’s property unknowingly or didn’t have an intention to violate the law, you can still be charged. In other cases, people commit the crime of trespassing with the intent to commit another crime, such as theft or assault. Whatever the reason you’ve been charged, it’s crucial that you have a North Carolina criminal defense attorney protecting your rights. Contact Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, today to schedule your initial consultation.
Hancock Law Firm serves residents in Beaufort, Morehead City, and throughout all of Carteret County.