North Carolina

(information last updated Fall 2017)

Collection of Information:

Ag-Gag Law:

“(a) Any person who intentionally gains access to the nonpublic areas of another’s premises and engages in an act that exceeds the person’s authority to enter those areas is liable to the owner or operator of the premises for any damages sustained.  For the purposes of this section, “nonpublic areas” shall mean those areas not accessible to or not intended to be accessed by the general public.

(b) For the purposes of this section, an act that exceeds a person’s authority to enter the nonpublic areas of another’s premises is any of the following:

    (1) An employee who enters the nonpublic areas of an employer’s premises for a reason other than a bona fide intent of seeking or holding employment or doing business with the employer and thereafter without authorization captures or removes the employer's data, paper, records, or any other documents and uses the information to breach the person's duty of loyalty to the employer.

     (2) …and thereafter without authorization records images or sound occurring within an employer's premises and uses the recording to breach the person's duty of loyalty to the employer.

     (3) Knowingly or intentionally placing on the employer's premises an unattended camera or electronic surveillance device and using that device to record images or data.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 99A-2.


In a civil suit, a court may award the prevailing party, separately or in conjunction with equitable relief, compensatory damages, and costs and fees, “[e]xemplary damages as otherwise allowed by State or federal law in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each day, or portion thereof, that a defendant has acted in violation of subsection (a) of this section.”  Id.

Drone Law:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  Entry upon property constitutes criminal trespass only if the property is “so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate clearly an intent to keep out intruders,” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.12 (first degree trespass), or “posted, in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders with notice not to enter the [property].”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.13 (second degree trespass).  Entering or remaining on a property after being “notified not to enter or remain there by the owner, by a person in charge of the premises, by a lawful occupant, or by another authorized person” is also second degree trespass.  Id.

Other Provisions:

Trespass against a “facility . . . owned or operated by an electric power supplier[,]” a water treatment facility, a natural gas facility, or “[a]ny facility used or operated for agricultural activities” carries a heightened penalty.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-159.12.


See infra “Drone Laws.”

Drone Laws:


“Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person . . . shall use an unmanned aircraft system to . . . [c]onduct surveillance of . . . [p]rivate real property without the consent of the owner, easement holder, or lessee of the property.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-300.1(b).


“(d) Limitations on Use of Special Imaging Technology.--Commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems may be equipped with infrared or other thermal imaging technology subject to the provisions of this subsection.  Infrared or other similar thermal imaging technology equipment shall be for the sole purpose of scientific investigation; scientific research; mapping and evaluating the earth's surface, including terrain and surface water bodies and other features; investigation or evaluation of crops, livestock, or farming operations; investigation of forests and forest management; and other similar investigations of vegetation or wildlife.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-300.1.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“A defendant is guilty of stalking if the defendant willfully on more than one occasion harasses another person without legal purpose or willfully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person without legal purpose and the defendant knows or should know that the harassment or the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to do any of the following:

    (1)  Fear for the person's safety or the safety of the person's immediate family or close personal associates.

    (2)  Suffer substantial emotional distress by placing that person in fear of death, bodily injury, or continued harassment.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-277.3A.

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions could be construed to prohibit the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Prohibits:

“Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this section [which prohibits the surveillance of private real property by drone] is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this State except when obtained or collected under the objectively reasonable, good-faith belief that the actions were lawful.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-300.1.

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that the claim “is well grounded in fact.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, 11.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:


“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8C-1, 901.

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard.  See State v. McGrady, 753 S.E.2d 361, 367 (N.C. 2014).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.