It is illegal to enter onto railroad property without permission in California (PC 369i).
PC 369i Law
Per California penal code section 369i(a)(1): Any person who enters or remains upon the property of any railroad without the permission of the owner of the land, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession and whose entry, presence, or conduct upon the property interferes with, interrupts, or hinders, or which, if allowed to continue, would interfere with, interrupt, or hinder the safe and efficient operation of any locomotive, railway car, or train is guilty of… trespass upon railroad property (PC 369i Abbrev.).
“Property of any Railroad” means any land owned, leased, or possessed by a railroad upon which is placed a railroad track and the land immediately adjacent thereto, to the distance of 20 feet on either side of the track, that is owned, leased, or possessed by a railroad (PC 369i(a)(2)).
Example: David likes to walk on the railroad tracks through the woods. David rarely encounters any trains on the railroad tracks because of the time of day he likes to take his walks. David causes no damage to the railroad tracks and exits the railroad tracks long before any approaching trains. Result: David may be charged with PC 369i even if he has never been asked to leave railroad property.
PC 369i Punishment
Jail Sentence: Trespassing upon railroad property is classified as a misdemeanor in California. If found guilty of Penal Code 369i, the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a term of supervision, as opposed to a county jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 369i cases, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed.
Whether a defendant is granted a probation sentence after a PC 369i conviction depends on many factors, such as the criminal history of the defendant, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain, the number of times the defendant was asked to leave the railroad property, and more.
A probation sentence after a conviction for trespass to railroad property is classified as “informal probation,” which means the defendant (probationer) is monitored by the court. Probation terms must be obeyed to remain out of jail. The probation terms will include stay-away orders (from railroad property), violate no law (no new misdemeanor or felony violations while on probation), pay court fines and fees, and more.
More Penalties: In addition to a possible jail or probation sentence, if found guilty of trespassing upon railroad property (PC 369i), the defendant could face direct and indirect negative consequences related to professional licensing, immigration status, military service, criminal protective orders (CPO), civil lawsuits, restitution orders, and more.
PC 369i Defenses
Common defenses to trespass to railroad property (PC 369i) include insufficient evidence to prove the defendant guilty of the crime, mistake of fact, duress, emergency, Miranda violation, alibi defense, insanity, necessity (same as emergency defense), statute of limitations (one year from the date of trespass to railroad property), consent (permission to enter railroad property), and more.
Statutory Defense: PC 369i(c) Provides a statutory defense to trespass upon railroad-adjacent property. Essentially, peaceful protest related to a labor dispute with the railroad, which is noticed to the public and otherwise does not directly interfere with railroad business (i.e., no protesting on railroad tracks), and takes place adjacent to railroad property, is not unlawful (Some limitations may apply).
Judicial Diversion: In some misdemeanor PC 369i(A)(1)-M cases, the defendant might be granted judicial diversion. Judicial diversion requires the defendant to complete probation-like sentencing, but upon completion of the probation-like sentencing, the defendant’s criminal case is dismissed. Judicial diversion is not a true defense in the sense that the defendant’s PC 369i case is dismissed or the defendant is found not guilty after a trial; but judicial diversion, when available, is a great defense option where the facts of the case are not in the defendant’s favor for trial.
Post-Conviction Relief Options: After a conviction for penal code 369i, the defendant may have several post-conviction relief options, including withdraw of a guilty or no contest plea (PC 1018), expunge the criminal conviction (PC 1203.4), petition the court for a certificate of rehabilitation (PC 4852), modify probation terms (PC 1203.3), appeal the criminal conviction, and more.
For more information on the crime of trespassing on railroad property, or California penal code section 369i(A)(1)-M, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our award-winning and successful trial attorneys have handled thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in the Inland Empire, including the cities and courts of Yucaipa, Victorville, Ontario, Chino, Upland, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, Fontana. Redlands, Rialto, Highland, and more. Call today!
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