Forums > General Industry > Arrested while shooting: a cautionary tale

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Yes, this is long, sorry....

Back in January, I made plans to shoot with a photographer I had worked with before, at a location I had shot at dozens of times. I was turned onto the location by another photographer, and judging by the posts on urban exploration websites, it's a pretty popular shoot destination. I met the photographer there, his female assistant, and we also had another brand new model join us as well.



The building on the property is surrounding by fencing- as well as No Trespassing signs- so we parked on a public road, and avoided that area, choosing instead to walk around where a new bridge is being built on a public road. This area is super remote, and I have never heard so much as a car pass anywhere near anytime I've been there. We continued to walk, sometimes off the road, as the area is very post-apocalyptic and interesting, hoping we could see something to shoot. We had been there less than 15 minutes, and taken no images, when a construction worker informed us we were "trespassing, and the law has been called." We immediately apologized, not realizing it was private property, and left immediately, but the police were already there waiting for at the road. Again, we were very compliant and apologetic, but the property owners were insistent we be arrested and charged with second degree trespassing, which we were.



Making a long story short, we all 4 hired lawyers, went to trial since the property owner was not willing to drop the charges, and lost. We were all convicted on a Prayer For Judgement Continued (apparently not all states have this. It's basically "conviction light"), meaning I now have a criminal record. According to the property owner, there were signs posted, meeting the minimum NC requirement of having one 8x11 inch sign posted every 200 yards (absurd, but, okay).



I cannot afford the appeals process (today was my last day to appeal anyways), nor do I have the time, considering this has cost me multiple jobs already , and the courthouse is 90 minutes from my house, without traffic.



I did not post this for any remarks about how it was handled, either my myself, the attorneys, or other parties involved, but as a cautionary tale to all my fellow creatives. Just because you think it's public property, or don't see any signs posted, do NOT assume it is public- please get permission from the property owner; if you can't, don't shoot there.



Related note: I probably will not be up for shooting at random locations anymore lol.

Edit for clarity:
The area we were shooting was NOT fenced, and was a solid mile away from the "construction" area. Apparently when meandering off the road, we ventured a mere 5 feet off the public easement, onto private property. 5 feet people.

The property owner is a dick not for protecting his property rights, but was a dick for a multitude of other reasons (lying on the stand, falsifying information, and others).
We did NOT knowingly trespass. Had we known it was private property, or had it been properly posted, we would have packed up and went home.

And because some people missed it the first time, I will NOT be  publicly discussing details regarding the case itself, or NC law. Please feel free to pm me for additional details if you would like them.

Mar 30 12 07:21 pm Link

Photographer

Cosplay Creatives

Posts: 10714

Amundsen-Scott - permanent station of the US, Unclaimed Sector, Antarctica

*internet hugs*

Mar 30 12 07:23 pm Link

Photographer

Jeffy k

Posts: 50

Lake Orion, Michigan, US

The property owner sounds like a real jerk. I'm sorry about your misfortune, but thanks for spreading the words of caution.

Mar 30 12 07:27 pm Link

Photographer

PHOTOS BY DILLEN

Posts: 616

Cartersville, Georgia, US

sounds like this property  owner was a real A-hole... why were you harming...nothing I am sure... just be glad this fool isn't a relative ...
I have been chased from 1 or 2 locations...but never arrested,,,N.C. must be in dire need of funds... sorry this happened to you

Mar 30 12 07:29 pm Link

Photographer

Ira Meyer

Posts: 426

Oxnard, California, US

Did I ever tell you how much I love felon llamas, Brennan!!!

:-))

Mar 30 12 07:30 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Ira Meyer wrote:
Did I ever tell you how much I love felon models, Brennan!!!

:-))

It's a misdemeanor, my first ever!! Hell, I don't even have any traffic tickets!!! lol

Mar 30 12 07:31 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Images Sell LLC wrote:
The property owner sounds like a real jerk. I'm sorry about your misfortune, but thanks for spreading the words of caution.

He was. Is.

*shrugs*

Out of over 600 shoots, guess something was bound to go wrong, somewhere, somehow. I just don't want it to happen to anyone else.

Mar 30 12 07:32 pm Link

Photographer

Wild Side Studios

Posts: 228

Cleveland, Ohio, US

Images Sell LLC wrote:
The property owner sounds like a real jerk. I'm sorry about your misfortune, but thanks for spreading the words of caution.

PHOTOS BY DILLEN wrote:
sounds like this property  owner was a real A-hole... why were you harming...nothing I am sure... just be glad this fool isn't a relative ...
I have been chased from 1 or 2 locations...but never arrested,,,N.C. must be in dire need of funds... sorry this happened to you

How is he a jerk for defending his property rights?  By the OP's own admission, this area has been frequented numerous times by himself and others.  The property owner was probably sick of the trespasses.  What if someone is injured on his property - then he would be getting sued.

Mar 30 12 07:32 pm Link

Photographer

Cosplay Creatives

Posts: 10714

Amundsen-Scott - permanent station of the US, Unclaimed Sector, Antarctica

Photography in public is like the new black, they think we're all terrorists.

Mar 30 12 07:33 pm Link

Photographer

Justin Bonaparte

Posts: 257

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Wow, sorry that happened! My best to you!

Mar 30 12 07:34 pm Link

Model

Svetlana Muerte

Posts: 914

Austin, Texas, US

That has to be the biggest waste of time for a criminal court I have read of late. What chaps me about your story is that it is not up to the property owner to drop the charges. The victim is ancillary to the proceeding.

A crime is against the peace of the state. The prosecuting body obviously does not have much to do if they took this to trial.

Thank you for the warning about NC. Notice once every 200 yards? Wow.

Makes me wonder what the property owner is up to that he/she is so concerned about some art happening....

I've been warned for trespassing once in Texas. The security guard was on us like in 30 seconds. But calling the cops? Sheesh.

Mar 30 12 07:35 pm Link

Photographer

Chris Macan

Posts: 12795

HAVERTOWN, Pennsylvania, US

The owner is probably sick of damage done by idiots,
I didn't press charges the first few times kids got into my "neat old space"
The 4th time they did stupid pointless damage.... now everyone gets charged.

Idiots ruin it for everyone.

Sorry you got the short end of the stick.... but sometimes that is how it goes.

Mar 30 12 07:36 pm Link

Model

Svetlana Muerte

Posts: 914

Austin, Texas, US

Wild Side Studios wrote:

Images Sell LLC wrote:
The property owner sounds like a real jerk. I'm sorry about your misfortune, but thanks for spreading the words of caution.

How is he a jerk for defending his property rights?  By the OP's own admission, this area has been frequented numerous times by himself and others.  The property owner was probably sick of the trespasses.  What if someone is injured on his property - then he would be getting sued.

Nope. 100% defense against trespass, unless there is a child injured while trying get to an 'attractive nuisance.'

Mar 30 12 07:36 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Wild Side Studios wrote:
How is he a jerk for defending his property rights?  By the OP's own admission, this area has been frequented numerous times by himself and others.  The property owner was probably sick of the trespasses.  What if someone is injured on his property - then he would be getting sued.

There was no malicious intent, we were apologetic, and left immediately. How can this even serve as making an example out of us? It's not like it's going to be in the local news.

FWIW, he lied on the stand (PM me for additional details). For the sake of length, I also left out the part about this being a construction company's foreman, who "caught" us, representing the demolition company who now owns the property. If trespassing was such a huge issue for them, as was implied to me by the court sheriffs, perhaps they should have gone to the trouble to post visible signs, or hell, yanno, maybe put a fucking fence up?

ETA: this is the first, and only time I will be defending myself, or  anything of the sort, in this thread, that was not the intention here. Much appreciated if everyone else could respect what this thread was about.

Mar 30 12 07:37 pm Link

Photographer

barepixels

Posts: 2910

San Diego, California, US

wow what a dick he is.

Mar 30 12 07:38 pm Link

guide forum

Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36252

San Francisco, California, US

B R E N N A N wrote:
It's a misdemeanor, my first ever!! Hell, I don't even have any traffic tickets!!! lol

Shrug it off and move on.  We all make mistakes, but he is the one who sounds like the jerk!

Mar 30 12 07:38 pm Link

Photographer

Wild Side Studios

Posts: 228

Cleveland, Ohio, US

Svetlana Muerte wrote:

Nope. 100% defense against trespass, unless there is a child injured while trying get to an 'attractive nuisance.'

First, there is not a 100% defense against trespassers...there is a duty to warn of hidden/dangerous conditions in many states for known or anticipated trespassers.  But that really is not the point - it is his property.  Let someone come onto your property 15 plus times and see how you feel.

Mar 30 12 07:42 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

PHOTOS BY DILLEN wrote:
sounds like this property  owner was a real A-hole... why were you harming...nothing I am sure... just be glad this fool isn't a relative ...
I have been chased from 1 or 2 locations...but never arrested,,,N.C. must be in dire need of funds... sorry this happened to you

Actually, the only funds I had to pay were my attorney fees. The judge thought the case retarded enough to waive all 4 of our fees. Which makes this an even more colossal waste of government time and money.

Mar 30 12 07:43 pm Link

Photographer

John Jebbia

Posts: 27614

Phoenix, Arizona, US

Hey.. Can you tell us all about the jailhouse strip search. It's a lonely Friday night for me. Details please.

Mar 30 12 07:44 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Wild Side Studios wrote:

First, there is not a 100% defense against trespassers...there is a duty to warn of hidden/dangerous conditions in many states for known or anticipated trespassers.  But that really is not the point - it is his property.  Let someone come onto your property 15 plus times and see how you feel.

Please research relevant NC laws regarding trespassing before posting.

*makes mental note to switch to worksafe mode when looking at your portfolio*

Mar 30 12 07:45 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

John Jebbia wrote:
Hey.. Can you tell us all about the jailhouse strip search. It's a lonely Friday night for me. Details please.

Nope, that's my issue with the TSA, the groping bastards, no frisking by NC officials yet!! *knocks on wood*

Mar 30 12 07:45 pm Link

Photographer

Wild Side Studios

Posts: 228

Cleveland, Ohio, US

B R E N N A N wrote:

There was no malicious intent, we were apologetic, and left immediately. How can this even serve as making an example out of us? It's not like it's going to be in the local news.

FWIW, he lied on the stand (PM me for additional details). For the sake of length, I also left out the part about this being a construction company's foreman, who "caught" us, representing the demolition company who now owns the property. If trespassing was such a huge issue for them, as was implied to me by the court sheriffs, perhaps they should have gone to the trouble to post visible signs, or hell, yanno, maybe out a fucking fence up?

ETA: this is the first, and only time I will be defending myself, or  anything of the sort, in this thread, that was not the intention here. Much appreciated if everyone else could respect what this thread was about.

A court heard the evidence, weighed the credibility of witnesses and decided you were in fact trespassing.  Every property in America does not have no trespassing signs or fences.

Mar 30 12 07:46 pm Link

Photographer

Black Sunshine

Posts: 811

Austin, Texas, US

photography is not a crime!

Mar 30 12 07:47 pm Link

Photographer

John Jebbia

Posts: 27614

Phoenix, Arizona, US

B R E N N A N wrote:
Nope, that's my issue with the TSA, the groping bastards, no frisking by NC officials yet!! *knocks on wood*

Buzzkill.. You could have lied and made up a hot sweaty story for me..

Mar 30 12 07:47 pm Link

Photographer

27255

Posts: 689

San Diego, California, US

Why were the owners/demolition company so adamant?

Were they in the process of demolishing?

Was it a liability issue?

Mar 30 12 07:47 pm Link

Photographer

Wild Side Studios

Posts: 228

Cleveland, Ohio, US

B R E N N A N wrote:
Please research relevant NC laws regarding trespassing before posting.

*makes mental note to switch to worksafe mode when looking at your portfolio*

I just did a brief research per your request...based on a law firm website in N.C.:

Trespasser. A trespasser enters the property without any right whatsoever to do so. In the case of adult trespassers, the owner generally has no duty of care and need not take reasonable care of his property or warn of hidden dangers. Even if a person was trespassing at the time of his or her injury, he or she may still be able to recover, however, if he or she can show that the owner knew it was likely that trespassers would enter the property. Children are owed a higher duty of care, regardless of whether they are considered trespassers. A landowner's duty to warn is also heightened with respect to children.

http://www.abramslawfirm.com/CM/FSDP/Pr … topic&id=4

Mar 30 12 07:50 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Stan Schutze wrote:
Why were the owners/demolition company so adamant?

Were they in the process of demolishing?

Was it a liability issue?

The foreman had a hard-on for fucking with kids.

The area that was fenced off was a liability issue (it was a furniture finishing plant closed down years ago for mesothelioma fallen into disrepair); the area we were in was not.

The court sheriff jokingly asked the foreman during court if coming to the courthouse to prosecute trespassers was going to become a full time job for him. Knowing this, you would think that they would realize the bare minimum precautions they had taken (according to them) were not enough.

Mar 30 12 07:51 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Wild Side Studios wrote:

I just did a brief research per your request...based on a law firm website in N.C.:

Trespasser. A trespasser enters the property without any right whatsoever to do so. In the case of adult trespassers, the owner generally has no duty of care and need not take reasonable care of his property or warn of hidden dangers. Even if a person was trespassing at the time of his or her injury, he or she may still be able to recover, however, if he or she can show that the owner knew it was likely that trespassers would enter the property. Children are owed a higher duty of care, regardless of whether they are considered trespassers. A landowner's duty to warn is also heightened with respect to children.

http://www.abramslawfirm.com/CM/FSDP/Pr … topic&id=4

I have no desire to sit here and argue semantics with you, so I will ignore all further posts from you.

And for the love of fuck, an attorney's website? Have the sense to pull from the NC gov website, at least.

Mar 30 12 07:52 pm Link

Photographer

Farenell Photography

Posts: 18126

Albany, New York, US

I'm a little confused.

Were you arrested on the private property itself (the one you were unwittingly trespassing on) or on public property?

Mar 30 12 07:53 pm Link

Photographer

Supermodel Photographer

Posts: 3309

Oyster Bay, New York, US

Thanks very much for the caution.

Mar 30 12 07:54 pm Link

Photographer

27255

Posts: 689

San Diego, California, US

Sorry for your bad luck. Wrong place at the wrong time, I guess, clashing with the wrong person.

That's too bad.

Mar 30 12 07:54 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Farenell Photography wrote:
I'm a little confused.

Were you arrested on the private property itself (the one you were unwittingly trespassing on) or on public property?

We were walking off of what was apparently private property when we were arrested.

Unrelated: I'll be in Albany in a few weeks!!!

Mar 30 12 07:59 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Stan Schutze wrote:
Sorry for your bad luck. Wrong place at the wrong time, I guess, clashing with the wrong person.

That's too bad.

Thanks! And eek, that was your 666th post lol

Mar 30 12 07:59 pm Link

Photographer

Supermodel Photographer

Posts: 3309

Oyster Bay, New York, US

[RESERVED]

Mar 30 12 08:07 pm Link

Model

B R E N N A N

Posts: 4139

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Supermodel Photographer wrote:
[RESERVED]

???

Mar 30 12 08:10 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38554

Portland, Oregon, US

It sucks that some people can be such dicks.

I do think that the issue with DSLRs making more people think they are photographers and more people sharing locations via web sites (and photo sharing like flickr) is causing property owners to become more and more intolerant of people coming onto their property.

Basically, "in the old days", when only a few people shooting film went to places, it wasn't that big of a deal.  Now, it can be a frequent stream of people, and it just makes the property owners sick of it, and/or location foremen who are jerks to become even bigger jerks about it.

My guess, someone else had been there before you and they were not nearly so cooperative and only a few people with bad attitudes can fuck shit up for the rest of us.

PS: Send me any details you want to share.

Sucky situation, and sorry it worked out with a lame outcome.

Mar 30 12 08:13 pm Link

Photographer

GeorgeMann

Posts: 1148

Orange, California, US

Wild Side Studios wrote:

Images Sell LLC wrote:
The property owner sounds like a real jerk. I'm sorry about your misfortune, but thanks for spreading the words of caution.

How is he a jerk for defending his property rights?  By the OP's own admission, this area has been frequented numerous times by himself and others.  The property owner was probably sick of the trespasses.  What if someone is injured on his property - then he would be getting sued.

It appears the OP was merely giving an account of what happened when they unknowingly trespassed.
The OP did not request nor expect sympathy, but was merely warning everyone else.
I see nothing in any of your posts that lends anything good to the discussion other than your penchant for argument.

Mar 30 12 08:13 pm Link

Photographer

Moore Photo Graphix

Posts: 5288

Washington, District of Columbia, US

Sounds like trumped up charges! It's clear the property owner is using the letter of the law to extreme since his influence dictated this case. Make you wonder if he's been pulling this crap for a while. I wouldn't be surprise if the property owner tried this again, only to have this blow up his face.

Mar 30 12 08:15 pm Link

Model

Lorayne York

Posts: 2120

Colorado Springs, Colorado, US

sad thanks for this information. I frequently find myself on random bits of land. I will be more careful from now on.

Mar 30 12 08:16 pm Link

Photographer

291

Posts: 11911

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, California, US

assholes like this deserve some similar justice.  you can provide that with very little effort on your part.

contact the county, state and federal tax agencies that you believe this person has not complied fully with filing proper tax records.  demand an audit, which is your right to do as you will be compensated a percentage for any tax owed.  tell them you believe improper tax credits are being applied for that property.

even if they don't find anything, that audit will create some living hell.

Mar 30 12 08:17 pm Link