How Does the Criminal Trespass Law Work in California?
Someone who enters or remains on the property of another without permission may be guilty of criminal trespass under California Penal Code § 602 PC. The trespass can occur in literal situations or others not so straightforward. It can occur at a residence or place of work.
There are some trespass charges which are only infractions and if found guilty result only in a fine. However, most trespasses are charged as misdemeanors and if convicted can result in a probationary sentence or up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. Trespass can be charged as a felony when it is an aggravated trespass. An aggravated trespass occurs where there is a victim involved who was threatened with injury while the trespass occurred. A felony charge, if convicted, may result in an active sentence of 16 months, 2 years or 3 years.
As with any criminal charge, there are various defenses that may be applicable to your case. You should discuss the possible defenses with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Often an individual may have had permission to be on the property or a right to the property. If there is a defense in your case your attorney can possibly negotiate a dismissal or plea. If your case is taken to trial your attorney will highlight your defense and find holes in the prosecution’s case.
Often there are more serious offenses charged and the negotiated plea results in a trespass conviction. If you are facing more serious charges such as burglary or a domestic violence crime, depending on the facts of your case and your criminal record you may be able to obtain a negotiated plea to trespass instead.
Penal Code Definition
The California Penal Code’s definition of criminal trespass lists more than 30 activities, which are considered criminal trespass. Some are not as straightforward or intuitive as you would think. Because there are many instances, which could result in a trespass charge, it is important to consult an attorney to see if your situation fits the criminal definition. The crime of criminal trespass within the Code is complicated however the prosecution must prove the basic elements of the crime to prevail.
The basic elements that must be proven for trespass are : (1) willfully entering (2) another’s property (3) with the intent to interfere with the other’s property rights and (4) an actual interference with the other’s property rights. The interference portion of the crime does not require damage and can result just by occupying or remaining on the premises when you do not have the permission to do so and you intend to do so.
Consult an Attorney
If you are facing a criminal trespass charge or a more serious offense to which a trespass plea can be negotiated it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the law and has the dedication to obtain the best results for you. The Rodriguez Law Group has the expertise and skill to represent your rights. Attorney Rodriguez is a former prosecutor of 13 years and knows the courtroom and the prosecution’s tactics. As a defense attorney, he can effectively negotiate and defend your case. Call our office today for a free consultation.