Everyone has heard of trespass, which is typically a misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, many people have never heard of this form of trespass – domestic criminal trespass. Domestic criminal trespass is simply one form of trespass in NC. It is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-134.3. Domestic criminal trespass in North Carolina is generally a misdemeanor but can become a felony in certain situations. Here, we will provide some insight into this interesting criminal charge.
Many couples, whether they are married or not, live together in the same home. This law anticipates that there may be some issues when these pairs separate. Let’s take a look at how this law operates.
Domestic Criminal Trespass Charges
A person can be charged with domestic criminal trespass if they enter the premises of a current or former spouse or domestic partner after being forbidden to do so or ordered to leave by the lawful occupant. A person can only be charged with this crime in North Carolina if they are currently living apart from the other person. In other words, you can’t have your spouse charged with this crime if you are still living together. Since being separate and apart is an important element of this crime, let’s take a look at some of the evidence used to demonstrate that the parties are living apart:
- There is a judicial order of separation;
- There is a court order directing the person charged to stay away from the premises occupied by the complainant
- There is a verbal OR written agreement between the parties that the parties shall live separate and apart AND such parties are in fact living separate and apart; or
- The parties have separate residences.
In a nutshell, this law forbids an ex-spouse/domestic partner from leaving the shared home and then coming back without permission and against the wishes of the remaining spouse. It is typically a misdemeanor criminal charge in North Carolina. We discuss the punishment below.
Punishment for Domestic Criminal Trespass
Domestic criminal trespass is punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina. This is the second most serious level misdemeanor in the state. Violation of this law can become a felony in certain situations. If the defendant trespassed at a safe house or safe haven for victims of domestic violence and the person was armed with a deadly weapon when they did so, it is a Class G felony.
If you have been charged with domestic criminal trespass or another criminal charge in North Carolina, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options. The criminal defense lawyers at Gilles Law offer free consultations for individuals facing criminal charges in North or South Carolina, at the State or Federal Level. Contact us to discuss your charges.