Owning property comes with many benefits. One of those benefits is to enjoy the exclusive use of that property without infringement from the outside world. If you enter or remain on another person's property without permission, you face both criminal and civil charges for trespassing. What will the prosecution have to do in order to prove that you are guilty of criminal trespass?
In most cases, the prosecution will try to establish that you knew, or should have known, that property was off-limits and that you entered anyway. Proving that you knew property was off-limits will allow them to counter any arguments of ignorance that you may try to use in your defense. Lack of knowledge can be an affirmative defense to trespassing, so the prosecution will try to prove that you knew (or should have known) what you were doing. How can the prosecution prove that you knowingly entered another's property? Establishing that the property was secured or that warning signs were posted will be their likely course of action.
Barriers Secured the Property
It can be simple to walk onto another person's property by mistake if there is nothing to indicate where one piece of property ends and another begins. In order to prove a trespassing case against you, the prosecution will point out the presence of any barriers that should have notified you that property was off-limits. Barriers that may be used to secure and/or enclose property may include:
These barriers exist to protect the property owner's sole right to enjoy the use of his or her property. The prosecution will use the fact that you ignored and/or bypassed these measures as proof of criminal trespass. Bypassing a barrier could include hopping a fence, opening a gate, or climbing a wall.
Warning Signs Posted Around Perimeter
Some property owners may take steps to explicitly warn others that entering the property is off limits by posting “no trespassing” signs along the property's perimeter. If you enter property that has “no trespassing” signs posted "in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders,” you can face charges for second degree criminal trespass. The prosecutor handling your case will have to prove that:
- The property owner posted signs that explicitly told others not to enter their private property; and
- These signs were posted in a way that would be reasonably likely to warn others.
Whether or not the signs were posted in a manner that would be likely to warn you to stay off of the property will be a question of fact. The prosecution will attempt to prove:
- Multiple signs were posted;
- Any signs that were posted were spread out along the perimeter; and
- Signs were posted at places where trespassers were most likely to enter.
Fighting Criminal Trespass Charges in North Carolina
Have you been arrested for criminal trespassing in North Carolina? If so, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. The prosecution will immediately get to work on building a solid case against you. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner we can get to work on your defense. At Caulder & Valentine, our North Carolina trespassing attorneys will thoroughly investigate your alleged crime and fight to minimize the consequences of your arrest. Call us today to request a consultation and learn more.