California Penal Code Sections 601 and 602 – Trespassing
The crime of “trespassing” is covered under California Penal Code Section 602, which prohibits someone from entering or remaining on another person’s property without permission. The state of California has established several situations where a trespassing crime could occur. For example, someone could be considered a trespasser if they enter a restaurant with intent to create a disturbance and drive away customers. Business owners conduct their daily business with an implied consent that customers can enter and engage in normal transactions, but it doesn’t apply to anyone who enters the business to obstruct normal operation. Penal Code 602 trespassing law also applies to anyone who fails to leave a hotel room after refusing to pay or if they don’t leave a public facility after it closed.
Another example includes a situation where someone enters a private store and starts engaging customers about the store’s use of non-union workers. Since his behavior is a direct intent to interfere with daily business of the store, security personnel ask the man to leave the premises. However, he refuses to leave and continues to engage customers. In this situation, he could be charged with PC 602 trespassing because while he had implied consent to enter the store, he interfered with business and refused to leave. In other words, consent no longer existed.
The less common felony crime of “aggravated trespassing” is covered under California Penal Code Section 601 is a special form of trespassing and occurs when you make a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury with intent to make the person fear for their safety and within 30 days after the threat, you enter their property or place of business to carry it out. Let’s take a closer look below at the legal definitions, penalties, and legal defense below.
Legal Definition of Penal Code 602 Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 602 defines a wide range of activities considered a trespassing crime, but the most common form of a trespassing in Los Angeles County includes the following situations:
- You fail or refuse to leave private property after being asked to leave
- You enter someone’s property without permission
- You enter someone’s property with intent to damage their property
- You enter someone’s property with intent to interfere with their business
- You refuse to leave a motel and refuse to pay
- You enter a closed and restricted land
The legal definition of PC 602 is vague and often complicated. However, in order to be convicted of criminal trespass, there are similar “elements of the crime” that must be proven by the Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction. These elements include the following:
- You willfully entered or remained on someone’s property or land
- You had specific intent to interfere with business or obstruct property
- You didn’t have consent from the owner
- You actually interfered or obstructed someone’s property rights
In the majority of cases, trespassing in California is misdemeanor crime. If you are convicted of penal Code 602, the legal penalties include up to 6 months in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Legal Definition of Penal Code 601 Aggravated Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 601 describes aggravated trespassing, commonly known as “felony trespass,” as follows:
(a) Anyone is guilty of trespass who makes a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury to someone else with intent to place them in reasonable fear of their own safety or safety of their family, and who within 30 days of the threat, unlawfully enters their residence, property, or workplace with the intent to carry out he threat.
The “credible threat” can be made either orally, in writing or through electronic communication. It can also be implied by a pattern of conduct. Under Penal Code Section 601, aggravated trespassing is potentially a felony crime with severe legal consequences.
In Los Angeles County, aggravated trespass charges are often filed in connection with domestic violence or stalking cases. In order to be convicted of aggravated trespass, the Los Angeles County prosecutor has to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you threatened someone else to place them in fear of their safety, and within one month, you entered their property to carry out the threat.
Aggravated trespassing is a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense. The Los Angeles County prosecutor will normally base their decision on the specific circumstances of the accusation and your criminal history. If you are convicted of felony trespass, the legal penalties can include up to 16 months to 3 years in county jail, a $10,000 fine, and felony probation.
The most common legal defenses against felony trespassing include that your alleged threat was not credible, you didn’t intent to cause fear to the person threatened, and you didn’t intent to actually carry out the threat when you entered their property or workplace.
Related Offenses for Penal Code 602 Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery
California Penal Code Section 273.5 – Corporal Injury to Spouse
California Penal Code Section 422 – Criminal Threats
California Penal Code Section 459 – Burglary
California Penal Code Section 594 – Vandalism
California Penal Code Section 646.9 – Stalking
Legal Defenses for Penal Code 602 Trespassing
A skilled criminal defense attorney at our law firm could use several legal defenses in your case. Each case is unique and will first require a close review of all the details. However, some of the most common legal defenses against Penal Code 602 criminal trespass include:
No Intent – In some cases, we could argue you had no intent to interfere, or your actions were not willful. Remember, if the prosecutor can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt you intended to interfere with a business or enter a property unlawfully, you should be able to avoid a conviction for criminal trespass.
Consent – If we can show you had permission to be on the property or your behavior on the property was authorized, you should be able to avoid a conviction for trespassing. In other words, if you initially entered the property with consent, bur remained there without consent, you are not guilty under trespassing laws in the California.
No Interference with Business Activity – If you are facing charges under Penal Code 602 which prohibits entering another person’s property with intent to interfere or obstruct business activities, you have to actually interfere or obstruct their business. We might be able to raise a valid argument you did not interfere with their business activity and avoid a conviction.
If you have been accused of aggravated trespassing under California Penal Code Section 601, available legal defenses include that your alleged threat was not credible or when you did actually make the threat, you had no intent to cause the person to fear for their safety. We might also be able to argue you didn’t intend to carry out the threat when you entered their home or workplace.
Contact the Goldstein Law Group
If you or a family member has been charged with trespassing, you should contact our highly experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the details of your case and legal options. We have decades of combined experience and know how to plan an effective defense strategy to obtain the best possible outcome on your case. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles County from our Hollywood Office located at 1645 Vine St #809 Los Angeles, CA 90028. Contact us at 323-461-2000.
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