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North Carolina Criminal Trespass Laws

Trespass is generally defined as the act of intentionally entering or staying on someone else's property without permission. The element of intent is meant to prevent a criminal charge for accidentally entering someone else's property. Generally, however, entering property where a there's a "No Trespassing" sign can be enough to show intent for criminal trespass purposes. It's important to note that each state has its own definition of conduct that qualifies as trespassing. North Carolina, for example, divides its criminal trespass laws into first and second degree trespass.

North Carolina Criminal Trespass Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of criminal trespass laws in North Carolina.


North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-159.11, et seq.

What's Prohibited?

First degree trespass (Section 14-159.12): Without permission entering or remaining:

  • On someone else's property that's enclosed/secured as to clearly demonstrate an intent to keep out intruders; or
  • In a building owned by someone else.

Second degree trespass (Section 14-159.13): Without permission entering or remaining on someone else's property:

  • After being notified not to enter or remain there by the owner, a lawful occupant, or other authorized person; or
  • Where there is a notice posted informing intruders not to enter the property.

First degree trespass is generally a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, the following circumstances change the classification of the crime:

  • It's a Class A1 misdemeanor if certain premises are involved, such as a facility operated by an electric power supplier or a facility use for a public water system, and the person entered a building or had to go through a barrier to reach the facility.
  • It's a Class H felony if the circumstances that qualify it as a Class A1 misdemeanor exist and the offense is committed with the intent to disrupt the normal operation of any of the facilities or involves an act that places anyone on the premises (including the offender) at risk of serious bodily injury.
  • It's a Class I felony if the offense occurs on real property where the offender reentered after being removed pursuant to the execution of a valid order or (under color of title) the offender knowingly provided materially false evidence of ownership or a right to possess the property.

Second degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor.


The penalties for a misdemeanor will be based on the guidelines provided by Section 15A-1340.20, et seq., and Section 15A-1340.13, et seq. for a felony. Additionally, if the criminal trespass is classified as a Class I felony, a fine of at least $1,000 will be imposed.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Criminal Trespass Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like more information related to this topic, you can click on the links below:

Charged under North Carolina's Criminal Trespass Laws? Get Legal Help

Although criminal trespass isn't as serious a crime as some others, a conviction can still end up on your record and have a negative impact on your life. In the event that you're charged under North Carolina's criminal trespass laws, it's a good idea to consult a criminal defense attorney in North Carolina to discuss your specific situation and craft the best defense.

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