What is criminal Trespassing? Penal Code Section 602
When it comes to criminal trespassing cases, the police will get involved in certain situations where somebody actually is trespassing on another person's property — whether that be a residential trespass or a trespass at a business. If you have been accused of trespassing, you should retain an experienced criminal attorney to fight the case.
Usually, these cases are throw-away charges where somebody is called out for one reason or another and they can't get him for that particular charge, so they just hit him with a trespass and say, you were told to leave; you didn't leave, so now we're going to get you for a trespass. There are different types of criminal trespass, but they all have similar elements of the crime,
Prior Warning in Los Angeles Criminal Trespassing Cases
The key for these trespassing cases is someone actually has to be warned sufficiently for purposes of the law that they cannot be at a particular location and if they ignore that warning, then they can be hit with trespassing charges. That's why you see people posting trespassing signs on their land saying, Notice Trespassing, then if somebody goes on there they can be arrested and prosecuted for trespassing.
Also, if someone is told that they can't come to a location — let's say you have an angry neighbor dispute and one neighbor is threatening another neighbor and is coming on the at neighbor's property, a lot of times what the police will do is come out and tell both neighbors, we're warning you both now, stay off each other's property.
If you go on the property again and we catch you on there and we can prove it or there's a witness that you were on that property, we're going to arrest you. We're going to cite you into court for a trespassing violation pursuant to Penal Code Section 602. You could face aggravated trespassing charges under Penal Code 601 if you make a credible threat of bodily harm to someone on the property and return within 30 days with the intent to carry out that threat.
So, that we do see a lot of in criminal defense. Also, in business — let's say someone is drunk, acting like an idiot at a club. The police are called out. The club tells them, get off our property. We're done. You're no longer welcome here. We reserve the right to refuse service to anybody, and then that person continues to come on the club's property, the police could arrest that person and cite them for trespassing.
Trespassing as a Lesser Offense for Other Los Angeles Criminal Cases
A lot of times though, I do see it as a crime that's used as a lesser charge for other crimes. So, let's say somebody commits a battery or some other criminal offense, and are a theft-related offense, and then it's kind of a weak battery or weak theft-related offense, a lot of times we can get a trespassing which is just going on somebody else's property without their permission.
I would characterize that as low-grade misdemeanor. The punishment is usually not that high and it doesn't reflect that poorly on someone's criminal record.
So, if you're either being charged with a trespassing or you're being charged with another crime and you want to try to get a trespassing instead of it, obviously to do the latter, you're going to have to have some arguments that it would be a trespassing.
The prosecutors don't usually like to make up a trespassing charge. They usually like to actually have some evidence that there is a trespassing charge if they're going to give you a lesser charge than what you're currently being charged with in the criminal complaint and they want that lesser charge to be a trespassing, they're going to have to have facts that substantiate that charge and then they might consider doing it.
So, I do get a lot of trespassing for different cases. I've gotten them for domestic violence cases. Obviously, somebody would rather have a trespassing charge than a battery charge or a 273.5 which is a domestic violence battery-related offense.
Trespassing would be a much better charge. I've also got trespassing in theft-related offenses. I've had clients charged with grand theft or petty theft or embezzlement and I've been able to get trespassing and it kind of does fit under the circumstances of the case because once someone starts stealing from you, obviously you don't want them on your property anymore so they are trespassing.
How to Fight a Trespassing Charge in California?
So, this trespassing concept is an interesting one. It's definitely a lower-level misdemeanor and if you're charged with trespassing and you don't want the trespassing, a lot of times I can get alternate sentencing, some sort of a diversionary program which basically protects your record, because for sure, nobody wants a criminal record.
So, if they're starting with the premise of a trespassing in Los Angeles county, you have no criminal record, it's not a very serious situation, there's a strong possibility we can work something out that protects your criminal record. We just need to sit down, talk about it and decide what the best approach is.