Trespass Crimes Law & Defense
PC 601(a) & 602
The crime of Trespass is found at California penal code sections 601(a) and 602 Essentially, trespass means to enter someone else's property or land without permission.
There are a variety of trespass charges that may be filed against a defendant depending on the unique circumstances of the case. For example, trespass with intent to interfere with a business is charged as PC 602(k), whereas trespass to enter and occupy property is charged as PC 602(m). There are dozens of specific charges of trespass, but the penalties and defenses are very similar no matter what specific trespass crime is charged against a defendant.
In general, to prove the defendant trespassed, the district attorney must prove that the defendant entered upon property without the owner's consent, either to commit an illegal act of some kind, or the defendant remained on property after being instructed to vacate the property.
Property, as used in trespass law, can be just about any type of property such as a building, a home, a vacant field, a boat, etc. Property does not include personal or intellectual property.
Sentence for Trespass
Most trespass charges are filed as misdemeanors, with the exception that trespass with threats of serious bodily injury (PC 601(a)) may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, and trespass to enter or occupy property (PC 602(m)) may be filed as a misdemeanor or as an infraction.
Felony Sentence: If found guilty of felony trespass (PC 601(a)), the defendant could face up to three years in jail. However, probation sentences (without jail) is more common for defendants who have little or no criminal history. Also, for felony trespass convictions the defendant may be entitled to suspended sentences to avoid actual jail.
Misdemeanor Sentence: If found guilty of misdemeanor trespass, the defendant may face up to one hundred eighty days in the county jail; however, informal probation sentences with an order to serve work release or house arrest as an alternative to jail may be available.
Infraction Sentence: If found guilty of infraction trespass, the defendant may be ordered to pay a fine, but jail in not required.
In addition to any possible jail time, if found guilty of criminal trespass, the defendant may be made to stay away from certain people or certain places under a criminal protective order (CPO). Also, convictions for criminal trespass can carry harsh probation terms, fines and penalties, possible loss to immigration status (for non-U.S. citizens), possible lawsuits from victims, and possible professional licensing discipline (applies to any professional or occupation license such as any license issued by a Medical Board, State Bar, or Commission).
Defenses to Trespass
Common defenses to trespass charges include: statute of limitations (one year for misdemeanor trespass crimes and three years for felony trespass crimes), mistake of fact, insufficient evidence, consent to enter the property, claim of right, abatement of nuisance, emergency, necessity, self-defense, defense of others, and more.
If you are charged with trespass, or a violation of California penal code section 601(a) or 602, contact our criminal defense attorneys without delay for a free consultation. Our criminal attorneys will explain your rights and defense options and we are everyday to assist you.
More Trespassing Crimes
PC 601(a) Trespass with threat of serious bodily injury
PC 602(c) Trespass to injure or sever produce
PC 602(f) Trespass to damage or destroy highway sign
PC 602(h)(1) Trespass to injure farm animal
PC 602(i) Trespass to damage fence or gate
PC 602(k) Trespass with intent to interfere with business
PC 602(m) Trespass to enter & occupy property
PC 602(n) Trespass to drive vehicle on private property
PC 602(p) Trespass to enter closed lands
PC 602((q) Trespass with refusal to leave building
PC 602(s) Trespass with refusal to leave hotel or motel
PC 602(t) Trespass to enter or refuse to leave property
PC 602.5(a) Trespass with unauthorized entry of dwelling
Quick Legal Reference
Crime: Trespass with Threats of Injury
Code: PC 601(a) (CalCrim No. 2930 et seq.)
Wobbler: Yes. PC 601(a) is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 601(a) may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Felony PC 601(a) jail sentence range: 16 months, 2 or 3 years (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation is allowed in felony and misdemeanor PC 601(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 601(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Note: Limitations may apply
Strike: PC 601(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
Firearms: Felony PC 601(a) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)
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