Sec 602 of the California Penal Code provides that the crime of criminal trespass is committed when an individual enters another person’s property without right or permission. Essentially, it is unlawful entry into another’s property, thus violating the rights of the owner over the property.

In California law, there are over thirty (30) acts that are considered as criminal trespassing. While there are rarely violated (unlawful taking of oysters in another’s pond) to the commonplace (refusing to be screened at an airport or government building), the following are the most common acts that are prohibited under the law:

• Entry into another’s property with intent to commit vandalism or damage property;
• Entry into someone else’s property to interfere with or disrupt business activities of the individuals in the property;
• Entry and occupation of another’s property without the proper permission from the owner or the one with rights over the property;
• Refusal to leave after lawful entry when asked to vacate the premises of the property;

In order to be convicted of the crime of criminal trespass, the following elements need to be proven:

• The accused had willfully entered someone else’s property;
• The accused had the specific intent to interfere with the property rights of the owner or has rights over the property entered;

The unique character of the crime of criminal trespass makes it punishable as an infraction, misdemeanor or felony. This crime is often prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. As this is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the imposable penalty would be up to six (6) months in county jail with a maximum fine of $1,000. Certain circumstances though, such as a refusal to leave a battered woman’s shelter after being asked to do so by the manager, can increase the penalty would be increased to one (1) year.

There is also the crime called aggravated trespass and this may be prosecuted as a felony. The aggravating factor would be the presence of a threat to injure another person seriously. Within thirty (30) days of making that threat, the accused unlawfully entered that person’s home or workplace with the intent to carry out the threat.

Depending upon the circumstances of the offense and the accused’s criminal history, this can be prosecuted as either a felony or misdemeanor. The imposable penalty would be one (1) year in county jail and payment of a fine of up to $2,000 as a misdemeanor or as a felony, the penalty imposable would be between sixteen (16) and forty eight (48) months in state prison.

The crime of trespassing is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.