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How To Not Get Arrested While Playing Pokémon Go


You’re probably too busy catching ‘em all to read through this entire post, so here’s the highlight reel:

  • Don’t trespass and find yourself hunting for Pokémon in the back of a police car.
  • Remember the basic rules that keep us from getting killed in public.
  • If you own land, you may be liable for Pokémon trainers running across your property.
  • Creeps exist, and they will undoubtedly do creepy things with Pokémon Go.

When I played Pokémon, there was just Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue.  We had to use a cable to connect our GameBoys so we could trade or battle.  It was also 1998 – a time when parents let their kids wander around outside without worrying too much.  It seems like 1998 was also a time when kids had more common sense.  Yet, I digress.  If you want to be the very best like no one ever was, read on so you don’t find yourself next to Team Rocket in jail.


Most folks are aware that walking past a “No Trespassing” sign can result in legal consequences.  However, trespassing is a crime regardless of whether there’s a warning sign.  In North Carolina, first degree trespassing occurs when a person, without authorization, enters or remains on the enclosed premises of another.  The premises could be a building, a front or back yard, or a parking lot among other things.  If there’s any kind of fence, sign, or any other indication that the owner intends to keep people out, trespassing can occur immediately upon entering that property.  Second degree trespassing occurs when a person, without authorization, enters or remains on any premises of another after he’s been told not to enter.  This crime includes open fields, driveways, and any other type of private property you can think of.  The bottom line is that you shouldn’t try catching Pokémon on anyone else’s property.  You could face criminal charges as well as civil fines or a lawsuit.  However, you can catch ‘em all in as many public places as you wish.  Be mindful of the following though!


I got the idea for this article while eating frozen yogurt in front of a TCBY with my wife and our newborn daughter.  A group of five or six “kids” (teenagers or early twenties) almost walked into the middle of the street, holding their phones in front of them quietly mumbling amongst themselves.  I suppose whatever Pokémon they were going after was immune to the passing vehicles.  Those kids wouldn’t have that same luxury.

Excerpts from N.C. General Statutes § 20-174

  • Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
  • Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
  • Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
  • No person shall willfully stand, sit or lie upon the highway or street in such a manner as to impeded the regular flow of traffic.

I read an article earlier this week about two guys who fell off a cliff in San Diego while playing Pokémon Go.  The creators of Pokémon Go cover themselves by warning players to be aware of their surroundings when the game opens.  However, there have been countless stories already of people getting injured or worse while navigating through this augmented reality.

Attractive Nuisance/Landowner’s Liability

Suddenly there’s a whole new threat of liability for landowners.  Traditionally, a landowner could be held liable for the injuries of a child if the landowner had something on their property that “attracted” the child onto the property where they were harmed.  This is the doctrine of “attractive nuisance.”  In North Carolina, a landowner will be liable for a child’s injury, or even death, if there’s an artificial condition, the landowner knows or should know of the dangerous condition, a child trespasses onto the property, and the utility of maintaining the dangerous condition is slight compared to the risk of harm to the child.  It’s a lengthy rule, but the bottom line is that there’s ample room for property owners to become liable for an injured child if the property owner placed or is aware of a PokéStop or Gym on their property.

Creeps and Augmented Reality

Finally, this last point almost goes without saying.  However, it must be said because of the world we live in.  Creeps exist.  Child predators are undoubtedly pondering ways to use Pokémon Go to commit atrocities.  I may be paranoid because my wife and I watch Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but mark my words – tragic stories about this will be popping up.  Parents, be aware of where your children are.  Keep an eye on them if you choose to let them play Pokémon Go.  Children and all others playing Pokémon Go, be aware of your surroundings and don’t lose sight of reality in the augmented reality of Pokémon Go.


If you absolutely must be the very best, like no one ever was, catch and train them all legally.  For further guidance, call Barber Power Law Group at (980) 202-5679.

DISCLAIMER: We are not your attorneys and you are not our client(s).  Therefore, no attorney-client relationship has been formed and you may not rely upon this educational article for legal advice.  Please seek assistance from an attorney licensed to practice law within your jurisdiction.

Jonathan Barber