What to Know About Trespassing Laws in North Carolina

Trespassing in North Carolina is defined as entering or refusing to leave private property without permission. If you trespass, you can face severe penalties.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Trespassing is treated as a serious crime under
North Carolina
law. If you’re caught knowingly entering another person’s property, you could be sentenced to jail or prison time depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation. 
Land ownership and trespassing laws are taken very seriously in the state of North Carolina. According to state law, those caught trespassing can be charged with either misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. The severity of the charges depends on where exactly they were caught trespassing, whether or not there were any no trespassing signs, and if there are any other crimes involved (such as larceny or domestic violence). 
To fill you in on everything you need to know about trespassing laws in North Carolina,
trusted insurance broker app
home insurance
—has prepared this in-depth article. We’ll cover what’s considered trespassing and the charges you could face if you’re caught.
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What is considered trespassing in North Carolina?

According to statewide general statutes, any time you knowingly enter or refuse to leave someone else’s property it’s considered trespassing in North Carolina. Most of the time, the criminal charges for trespassing are either a Class 3 misdemeanor or a Class A1 misdemeanor. 
In some situations, though, it can be classified as aClass H felony, a Class I felony, or a Class G felony. The sort of criminal trespassing charges you face will depend on the particular situation surrounding the crime. We’ll break it down more in the next section. 

Criminal trespassing charges in North Carolina

There are several ways that trespassing can be prosecuted in North Carolina. Perpetrators will be charged with either first-degree trespassing, second-degree trespassing, domestic criminal trespassing, or trespassing on a utility company. 

First-degree trespass

First-degree trespassing occurs when someone enters, without the owner’s consent, an enclosed property that is secured in a manner that is clearly meant to keep out intruders. 
This type of trespassing is treated as a Class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted of first-degree trespassing, you could face up to 60 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. If you returned after being removed from the property, the charge can be raised to a Class I felony. 

Second-degree trespass

A second-degree trespass is when a person is caught entering a private property that is clearly marked with a “no trespassing” or “private property” sign. 
You can also be charged with second-degree trespassing if the owner of the property asks you to leave and you refuse. This type of trespassing is treated as a Class 3 misdemeanor.  If convicted of second-degree trespassing, you could face up to 20 days in jail and/or a $200 fine

Domestic criminal trespass

Domestic criminal trespassing occurs when a former spouse or significant other trespasses on the property of the victim. North Carolina general law treats this type of trespassing as an A1 misdemeanor due to the likelihood of domestic violence and/or serious bodily injury to the victim. If convicted of domestic criminal trespassing, you could face up to 12 days in county jail as well as a fine
The added severity of punishment for domestic criminal trespassing is intended to help domestic violence victims maintain a safe distance and a safe house location from their abusers. To secure a conviction for this type of trespassing, there needs to be some sort of proof of the couple’s separation—such as differing primary residences or order of separation. 

Trespass on a utility company

North Carolina law has specific penalties for trespassing on private property owned by utility companies—such as the ones that help operate the public water system, an electric power supplier, or a natural gas company
If you’re not an authorized person, you should never enter one of these locations without permission. Doing so could land you with first-degree criminal trespassing charges or an A1 misdemeanor. If it’s proven that you had the intent to disrupt normal operations for the utility company, you could be charged with a Class H felony. 

Breaking and entering in North Carolina

Contrary to common belief, the charges of breaking and entering and trespassing are not the same thing. There are a few key differences:
  • A charge of breaking and entering does not require the owner to have forbidden entry onto the property. 
  • For an act to be considered breaking and entering, there has to have been intent to commit another crime (such as burglary or larceny). 

Protect your home with the right home insurance

You should always keep your home protected from trespassing and breaking & entering with solid locks and a security system. If someone does manage to get in, and they steal something or cause damage, you’ll want to have reliable
homeowners insurance
on your side—it can help cover a lot of the associated expenses. 
The best and easiest way to find affordable homeowners insurance is by using
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If someone is trespassing on your property, there are a couple of things that you can do. If you feel safe doing so, you can confront them and demand that they leave. If they don’t leave, you should then call the police. Or, you can jump right to contracting law enforcement if you feel at all threatened by the intruder(s).
Yes, all forms of trespassing are punishable by jail and/or prison time in North Carolina.
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