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What is Aggravated Trespass in California?

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Most of us are familiar with the concept of trespassing. We know that trespassing is the act of being on someone else’s property without first getting their permission. We fully understand that if we’re caught trespassing, the property owner has the right to file criminal charges against us.

If you’re convicted of trespassing in California, you have violated Penal Code 602 PC. The maximum penalty for a straightforward trespassing case is a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

What many of us don’t realize is that there is another type of trespassing, one that has a more serious sentence attached to it. This second type of trespassing in California is called aggravated trespassing.

Aggravated trespassing in California is also a part of California Penal Code 602. It’s Penal Code 602.5. It reads:

“a) Every person other than a public officer or employee acting within the course and scope of his or her employment in performance of a duty imposed by law, who enters or remains in any noncommercial dwelling house, apartment, or other residential place without consent of the owner, his or her agent, or the person in lawful possession thereof, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) Every person other than a public officer or an employee acting within the course and scope of his employment in performance of a duty imposed by law, who, without the consent of the owner, his or her agent, or the person in lawful possession thereof, enters or remains in any noncommercial dwelling house, apartment, or other residential place while a resident, or another person authorized to be in the dwelling, is present at any time during the course of the incident is guilty of aggravated trespass.”

Aggravated trespassing occurs when in addition to being on someone’s private property without their permission, you also threaten either the owner or anyone who has a legal right to be on the property. An example of this would be an ex-spouse getting into a threatening argument while standing in their former partner’s lawn. Another example would be someone breaking into another person’s home with the intent of robbery only to surprise the homeowner and to use a weapon to attempt to control the homeowner’s actions.

Aggravated trespass in California is often combined with California Penal Code Section 601. This particular law deals with malicious mischief and aggravated trespass. It states a person can be charged if:

“(1) Within 30 days of the threat, unlawfully enters into the residence or real property contiguous to the residence of the person threatened without lawful purpose, and with the intent to execute the threat against the target of the threat.

(2) Within 30 days of the threat, knowing that the place is the threatened person’s workplace, unlawfully enters into the workplace of the person threatened and carries out an act or acts to locate the threatened person within the workplace premises without lawful purpose, and with the intent to execute the threat against the target of the threat.”

The legal consequences for an aggravated trespass conviction are

  • Up to 1 year in jail,
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

If you’re accused of violating California Penal Code Section 601, the situation could be handled as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor violation of California Penal Code Section 601, your sentencing could include up to one year in county jail, or misdemeanor probation.

If you’re convicted of a felony violation of California Penal Code Section 601, your sentencing could include up to three years in county jail, or felony probation.

The best method for avoiding an aggravated trespassing in California charge is always making sure that you have the property owner’s permission to be on the property and making sure you never behave in a way that could be considered threatening.