Trespass Charges

If you find yourself facing trouble with the law for alleged trespassing, then you need a Mooresville criminal defense attorney who understands the ins and outs of North Carolina criminal trespass law. Trespass is not a one-size-fits-all offense. Trespass occurs for a number of reasons and has several different degrees of charges, the distinctions of which are important to understand. To learn more about how trespass is handled in and around Lake Norman, keep reading.

Common Situations

Trespass can occur for a number of reasons. Routinely, trespass involves domestic disputes. Fights with a spouse that get carried away can end in one party being ordered to leave the premises. If one party gets overheated and returns, he or she can be and often is arrested for trespass. If you are in the midst of a dispute with someone and decide to show up at their house unannounced for a heated conversation, that too could lead to a trespass arrest. Another common instance of trespass is if a landlord denies access to a friend who then shows up with your permission, but without the approval of the landlord. Simply loitering on someone else’s property without a valid reason can also be enough to justify an arrest for trespassing.

Different Degrees of Criminal Trespass

In most jurisdictions in North Carolina, there are two degrees of criminal trespass, first and second. Though there are important differences between the two degrees of criminal trespass, both require the same fundamental offense: that a person is in a place that he or she does not have a legal right to be. Now let’s take a closer look at the two more common forms of criminal trespass.

First-Degree Criminal Trespass

In Mooresville, first-degree criminal trespass is known as a Class 2 misdemeanor. A person convicted of first-degree criminal trespass faces up to 60 days in jail. This fact alone justifies the importance of reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with the court system in Iredell County.

First-degree trespass exists when a person shows up without permission on premises owned by someone else. When the person enters property that has been secured or enclosed, making it clear that intruders are not welcome, trespassing may be said to have occurred. The same if a person enters and remains in a building without permission.

Second-Degree Criminal Trespass

Second-degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Punishment depends on prior convictions, but usually involves fines and potential probation. Second-degree trespass is said to occur when a person enters or remains on someone else’s property without permission after being told to leave or stay out by someone with the legal authority to do so or after ignoring clear signs warning people not to enter property.

Examples of second-degree trespass include when a property owner posts a “Do Not Enter” or “No Trespassing” sign. If you choose to ignore that, perhaps in an abandoned house in Mooresville, you could potentially be arrested and charged with second-degree trespass. You can also be arrested and charged if you enter property where you were specifically told to leave.


If you are facing criminal trespass charges, whether first or second degree, there are a number of possible defenses that your Mooresville criminal defense attorney could consider pursuing. One involves carefully scrutinizing whether the premises were properly secured or enclosed or whether signs were posted warning strangers not to enter the property. If this is debatable, it can be argued that the person did not know he or she did not have permission to be on the premises.

Another common defense is to argue that the person being charged had a legal right to be on the property. If a landlord tries to have a tenant arrested and the tenant has a legal right to be on the premises, this calls into question the basis of the charge. For example, this is true if a husband tries to have his wife arrested and it can be shown that the she is the actual legal owner of the property. As the legal owner, she can argue that she should not be denied access to her own property.

Given the intricacies involved in criminal law regarding trespass, it is crucial to turn to an experienced Mooresville criminal defense attorney to manage your case. The lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have dealt with numerous such cases in the metro area and can help you mount an effective defense.