CA Penal Code 602

Criminal Trespassing

Criminal Trespassing Charges

You can be convicted of trespassing, CA Penal Code 602[1], if you enter someone’s property without their permission; this is the most basic form of trespassing, but there are some cases that are more strange and extreme.  You can also be convicted of trespassing for:

  • Entering a person’s property with the intent to obstruct their business activities
  • Occupying a person’s property without their permission
  • Refusing to leave a person’s property after being asked to leave

In order to be convicted of criminal trespassing the prosecutor must prove the two elements of the crime:

  • That you willfully entered someone else’s property
  • You did so with the specific intent to interfere with that person’s property rights

Willfully means deliberately or on purpose.  Meaning that if the act was an accident you should not be charged for criminal trespassing.  And specific intent means that you knowingly performed the action, meaning you were in a conscious state to make decisions and know what you were doing.

Criminal trespassing can be tried as an infraction, a misdemeanor and as a felony, depending on your criminal record and the details of the crime.

If you are convicted/cited for criminal trespassing you will pay a fine, that’s it.  You will not serve any jail time or be granted a probation term.

If you are convicted of criminal trespassing as a misdemeanor, the most common type of conviction, then you will face:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

If you are convicted of criminal trespassing as a felony, also known as aggravated trespassing then you will face:

  • Up to three years in state prison
  • Up to $2,000 in fines

Aggravated trespassing only pertains to if you make a criminal threat and within 30 days trespass on a person’s property to carry out that threat.

Prosecuting Criminal Trespassing

As previously stated, in order to be convicted of criminal threats the prosecutor must prove the two elements of the crime:

  1. That you willfully entered someone else’s property
  2. You did so with the specific intent to interfere with that person’s property rights

If the prosecution cannot prove these two elements then you will not convicted of criminal trespassing.

Criminal trespassing crimes vary significantly and are assessed on a case by case basis.  These crimes can be easy for the prosecutor to prove because a lot of the time a citizen will call and report the offense.  Other times the prosecution will have a difficult time because there is little, if any evidence.

Defending Criminal Trespassing

There are several criminal defense strategies that your attorney can utilize to prove your innocence when being faced with criminal trespassing charges.  For the most basic form of trespassing, when you enter a person’s property without there permission, the easiest defense is proving that the properties owner did not conform to the signage laws.  In other words, there are specific requirements that state where and how often “No Trespassing” signs must be hung, if you entered a person’s property not knowing that you were doing so, because of lack of signs, then you won’t be charged.

Next your criminal defense attorney will make sure you had consent to be on the property.  If you have consent to be on public property then you cannot be cited for criminal trespassing, even if you were asked to leave.  This defense strategy does not work for private property; if you were asked to leave private property and you refused to leave then you can be charged/cited for criminal trespassing.  The difference is that private property pertains to civil cases and public property pertains to criminal cases.

The next approach your criminal defense attorney will take is see if you were participating in a constitutionally protected activity.  If you were participating in a peaceful protest or any similarly protected activity then you cannot be charged for criminal trespassing.

One of the elements of the crime is that you interfere with a person’s property rights, meaning you obstruct with their business or activities of their property.  If you did not obstruct with the activities on one’s property then you cannot be cited/charged for criminal trespassing.  In other words, if you are taking part in a peaceful protest at a public park and the protest does not impede on people’s progress or force them to look at what you’re doing, then you, or your fellow protesters cannot be charged with criminal trespassing.

If you, or a loved one is being charged with criminal trespassing and are facing substantial fines or jail/prison time then it’s imperative to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.  Seppi Esfandi is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and has experience defending all sorts of criminal matters, including criminal trespassing.  Call (310) 274-6529 for a FREE case evaluation.

Expunging Criminal Trespassing

Criminal trespassing is a crime that can be expunged from your criminal record if you successfully completed your probation term without any infractions.  For more information regarding expungement and the entire process read our Expungement article.



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