Definition and Aspects of Trespassing:
Entering or remaining on someone’s property without permission is against the law. This act is called Trespassing, and under California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602), it’s a misdemeanor offense, punishable with jail time and hefty fines.
The state of California describes over thirty different incidents that would violate the Trespassing statute (PC 602). Out of the various situations that could be violations, the below are the most common:
- The Defendant entered another’s property with the intent to damage
- The Defendant entered private property without permission
- The Defendant entered another’s property with the intent to obstruct, interfere with, or disturb the business activities conducted there
- The Defendant occupied someone else’s property and refused to leave when asked
As mentioned, the above examples fall under violation of California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602). However, a Defendant could also be charged with Trespassing for any of the below curious scenarios:
- The Defendant refused screening at an airport, courthouse, or any other public place where it is mandated
- The Defendant soiled, stoned, or dirtied up another’s land without permission
To be convicted of California Penal Code 602 (PC 602), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant knowingly and willfully entered another’s property to interfere with the other person’s property rights
- The Defendant interfered with another’s property rights
Interfering with another’s property rights, for the purposes of California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602), could mean something as simple as tampering with someone’s belongings without permission or even damaging property. Additionally, if the Trespassing happened in a commercial place, interfering with the business of the owner also counts as a violation of California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602).
Lastly, ‘specific intent’ refers to the mental state of the Defendant at the time of the Trespassing. If he/she was aware that the property belonged to someone else and knew that his/her actions would obstruct or interfere with the rights of the owner or the property, it would be a violation of California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602).
In a place of business, if the Defendant enters with the intention of damaging the property but doesn’t carry through with it, he/she is not criminally liable for Trespassing.
Criminal Offenses Related to Trespassing:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 602 (PC 602), Trespassing:
- Burglary – California Penal Code 459 (PC 459)
- Vandalism – California Penal Code 594 (PC 594)
Examples of Trespassing:
A man noticed his neighbors are out of town. Knowing they are not on the premises, he entered their backyard and used their pool without the permission or knowledge of the owners. Under California Penal Code 602 (PC 602), he could be charged with Trespassing.
A group of friends get the permission of a landowner to camp by the owner’s private lake for a night. Because they have the owner’s knowledge and consent to be on the land, the friends did not commit Trespassing (PC 602). However, if the friends remain on the ground for a few weeks, the owner could then press charges, as the group has overstayed the time they had permission for.
Defenses for Trespassing:
Trespassing (PC 602) refers to the act of entering someone else’s property without the owner’s permission. However, if the Defendant had the right to be on the premises, the case should be dismissed. An experienced Defense Attorney can easily distinguish whether the Defendant’s case could be thrown out and assist with the process of it.
Additionally, if the Defendant had the permission of the owner to enter the property, it would not violate California Trespassing laws (PC 602) and would therefore not stand in court.
In another scenario, if the Defendant was not aware that the property was not to be entered, meaning there were no visible signs or warnings, the case could be dismissed. Part of the burden on the Prosecution is to prove that the Defendant willfully and knowingly entered another’s property. If the Defendant accidentally stumbled on someone’s land with no intention of causing harm, it would not count as Trespassing (PC 602).
Lastly, as mentioned in the definition and aspects of the crime, in order to be convicted of Trespassing on a commercial establishment, the Prosecution has to successfully prove that the Defendant obstructed the business. If the Defendant was simply on the property but did not interfere or hinder the business in any way, he/she would not be criminally liable for Trespassing (PC 602).
Consequences and Penalty for Trespassing:
California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602) is a unique charge and could be filed three different ways:
If California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602) is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment is a jail sentence of up to six months and fines up to $1,000. In certain cases, misdemeanor probation might take the place of the jail sentence. On the other hand, certain misdemeanor cases, such as interfering with a battered women’s shelter, can increase the convicted person’s jail sentence to one year.
Most commonly, Trespassing (PC 602) is classified as an infraction. This is often the case when the Defendant enters another’s house without permission or a private place with signs warning people off. The penalty for infraction trespassing (PC 602) is a $75 fine on the first offense and $250 for a repeat offense on the same property. If a convicted person enters the same property a third time, it is automatically classified as a misdemeanor.
In rare cases, Trespassing could be charged as a felony. Aggravated felony Trespassing or California Penal Code 601 (PC 601) often occurs when the Defendant makes a believable threat to inflict serious injury on another person and, within 30 days of the threat, enters the other’s property. California Penal Code 601 (PC 601), also known as Aggravated Trespassing, is a wobbler offense, meaning it could either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor Aggravated Trespassing (PC 601) is punishable with up to $2,000 in fines and up to 1 year in county jail. For felony Aggravated Trespassing (PC 601), the maximum jail sentence increases to three years, and additional felony probation periods may apply.
Trespassing, under California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and severe fines, and in certain cases, increase to a more serious felony charge. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Trespassing, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of Trespassing related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 602 (PC 602), Trespassing. Book a free consultation today.