You could face trespassing charges if you enter another person's property without their permission or legal right to access it. Simple trespassing in California is considered a misdemeanor. A simple trespass conviction could attract a jail term that does not exceed six months. You could face felony aggravated trespass charges if you threaten to murder or hurt someone and then break into their house or property. Aggravated trespassing crimes attract hefty fines and a potential jail term of up to three years. You should seek legal counsel if you are facing simple or aggravated trespassing charges. Your attorney will advise you about your charge's legal ramifications and defense options. If you seek reliable legal representation, our experienced attorneys at the Monterey Criminal Attorney can help.

Aggravated Trespass Under California Law

Under California law, trespassing means entering another person's property without permission. There are many ways you could commit this crime. For example, you could camp on another person's land without permission. Trespass can also arise if you enter a place with the warning "no trespass." Sometimes, you could face charges for a less severe act, like hiding in someone's garage or yard. The crime of trespass is charged under Penal Code 602. This law outlines the legal meaning of trespassing and the possible punishment you could face. The specific charges will depend on whether you commit simple or aggravated trespass.

Aggravated trespass is outlined under Penal Code 601. According to this law, aggravated trespass means making credible threats against someone and entering their residence to enforce the threat. Simple trespass does not constitute threatening or intending to follow through on the threat. This is what differentiates PC 601 and PC 602. You could be guilty under PC 601 if you make credible threats to harm someone else and follow them without consent to their house within 30 days of your threats.

You can only face aggravated trespass charges if your case involves aggravating circumstances. There are no aggravating circumstances if you only invade another person's property without their permission. Aggravating circumstances could elevate your charges from a misdemeanor to a felony. They include destroying property and hurting another person.

The specific circumstances or components that form aggravated trespassing are highlighted under PC 601. You can only face charges under this law if the prosecutor establishes all the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of the elements the prosecutor must prove include:

  • You threatened to harm another person physically or cause them to suffer severe bodily injury.
  • You threatened the victim, intending to make them worry about their well-being and that of their family.
  • You unlawfully visited the victim's residence without a valid reason, intending to execute your credible threat within 30 days of making it.
  • You unlawfully and deliberately entered the victim's workplace within 30 days of issuing the credible threat and looked for the victim without a valid reason, intending to carry through with the threat.

The prosecutor must show the court that your acts were intentional so that you can face the charges. Additionally, you are not subject to charges for aggravated trespass if you entered your property, residence, or business. For example, if you allegedly made a threat against a coworker, you will not face aggravated trespass charges for appearing at work.

Making a Credible Threat

The primary distinction between simple and aggravated trespass is making credible threats. Issuing credible threats is an aggravating element that could enhance the gravity and severity of trespass charges. Under the law, a credible threat could make the victim reasonably worry about their safety or the safety of their family. Often, only people capable of executing threats do make them. You could threaten someone in writing, electronically, or verbally. You could also indicate a real danger by displaying a pattern of behavior, with or without threatening comments. Generally, the prosecutor must prove that you can execute the threat so that you can face charges under PC 601.

Threats to Cause Great Bodily Harm

In aggravated trespass cases, you could have threatened to injure someone else seriously. Under PC 601, serious bodily injury is any substantial deterioration of a person's physical state. The following qualify as extreme physical harm:

  • Loss of function or impairment on any body organ or member
  • Serious physical disfigurement
  • Injuring that could require extensive suturing
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Concussion

Reasonable Fear

A credible threat must be made about their safety or the safety of their close relatives. Fear that is warranted is acceptable. It is, however, hard to show that an individual's words or behavior reasonably caused another person to worry for their well-being. Because of this, judges consider the facts of each case to determine if you intended to cause the victim to feel fearful. The judges could consider the following factors:

  • Your connection to the victim
  • If you had any companions
  • Any interactions you could have had previously with the victim
  • How the victim received the threat
  • Your actions when making the convincing threat
  • Your verbal communication with the victim

The court will consider the above elements to determine if the victim was legitimately worried for their safety or the safety of those he/she loves.

Immediate Family

Your credible threat could also make the victim fear for the safety of their immediate family. Under PC 601, the victim's immediate family could include any close relative, like:

  • Parent, child, or spouse
  • Grandparent or grandchild
  • Brother or sister
  • Any person they are related to by blood or marriage
  • Any person who stays with the victim

You could face aggravated trespass charges if you threaten to harm another person's family and break into their home without consent to execute your threat.

Within 30 Days

You could face aggravated trespass charges if you enter another person's residence or business within 30 days after making a credible threat. You must have been aware that the victim you threatened with serious bodily injury owns the house or workplace you are visiting. If that is true, the judge would reasonably believe that you meant to execute the threat you made against the victim.

Penal Code 601 Penalties

You could face aggravated trespass charges as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of your case and your previous criminal history. Misdemeanor charges can attract these penalties:

  • A fine that does not exceed $2,000
  • A jail term that does not exceed one year in a state prison
  • Misdemeanor or summary probation

You could also serve summary probation for one to three years. If you are awarded probation, you will serve the whole sentence out of custody and under the court's supervision. However, you must submit reports regularly to the court to inform the judge how well or poorly you are doing.

On the other hand, felony charges could attract the following penalties:

  • A fine that does not exceed $10,000
  • A jail term of 16 months, two years, or three years
  • Felony or formal probation

You could serve formal probation for a period that does not exceed five years. You could be subject to a probation officer if the judge grants you felony probation. The officer will have the duty to ensure that you comply with all probationary rules and regulations. The rules and regulations could consist of the following:

  • Payment of court fines and restitution to the victims
  • Engaging in community service
  • Undergo drug and alcohol treatment if you are found under the influence
  • Do not commit an additional offense while on probation
  • Avoid meeting or contacting the victim or their family members in any way

Other Consequences

A criminal conviction could have several effects on your life. Your professional and social lives could be among the areas of your life that could be affected. For example, a criminal conviction could make it challenging to secure employment. A potential employer could do a background check before hiring you. A criminal conviction could cost you a good career possibility, even if you have the proper papers.

A criminal conviction could also change how society perceives and treats you. This could significantly affect your social life because you will likely lose friends. It could be challenging to form new friendships after serving a jail term. It could also be hard to secure services like renting a house after serving a jail term. Landlords often do background checks before leasing their homes to tenants. A landlord could reject your application if you have a criminal record.

A conviction under PC 601 could also have negative immigration consequences. Aggravated felonies, like aggravated trespass, are crimes with serious immigration consequences. If convicted under PC 601, you can be deported or barred from entering the U.S.

A conviction under PC 601 could also negatively affect your right to own a gun. Under California law, you are not allowed to own a firearm if you are convicted of a felony. You must turn over any guns to the authorities once you are convicted of a felony.

However, if you are convicted under PC 601, you could request an expungement. The expungement could remove all the adverse effects of criminal convictions and penalties. Penal Code 1203.4 governs the expungement procedures. You could request the court expunge your criminal record once you have completed your prison sentence and met the probation requirements.

You could file a petition with the court that convicted you for the judge to order your criminal record to be expunged. The judge will carefully review the facts of your charges and the probation reports before making a final judgment. You must also meet the following requirements for you to qualify for expungement:

  • You must have completed probation and jail term for a previous offense
  • You must be free from any criminal charges

Defenses To Aggravated Trespassing Charges

Courts are never lenient with people accused of aggravated trespassing crimes. If found guilty, you could face severe penalties and consequences. You must fight the accusations to avoid the repercussions of the conviction. You can only win your case if you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney from a leading firm.

An attorney can help you develop a solid defense to convince the jury to reduce or dismiss your charges. He/she could gather enough evidence to refute the prosecutor's assertions. Some of the defenses your attorney could present include:

You Did Not Trespass

This defense can only be admissible in court if you did not enter the alleged victim's workplace or home to execute your threat. If you entered the victim's business or house to manage your threat, it can be challenging to fight aggravated trespass charges. You cannot be guilty under PC 601 if you only made a credible threat that you would not follow through.

Additionally, your attorney could allege that you did not intend to trespass and that you genuinely thought that you were at your workplace or residence. If you entered your own house, property, or home, you are not guilty under PC 601. The judge could drop your charges if your attorney succeeds in convincing them.

You Did Not Intend To Hurt The Victim Or Their Family

You can employ this defense if the prosecutor has further evidence against you. This defense could undermine the prosecutor's evidence and convince the jury to drop the charges against you. You could have threatened the victim and followed them to the business or house but decided not to execute the threat. In this case, your attorney must provide evidence that you were in the victim's home for work or other reasons besides executing the threat. For example, your attorney could point out that you went to the victim's house to make amends with them or to handle some unrelated business.

You Did Not Intend To Make The Victim Fearful

It could be true that you intimidated the victim, but your attorney could argue that you did not mean for them to worry about their safety. You could have threatened the victim to please an important person you were with by showing your bravery and strength. You could also have wanted to make people around you laugh with your antics. The judge could dismiss your charges if your attorney successfully convinces them with this defense.

No Credible Threat

This defense could be valid if you did not threaten the victim. You cannot face charges under PC 601 if there is no threat. On the other hand, you could face misdemeanor charges under PC 602 if you illegally entered the victim's property or business without their permission. If other aspects of your case meet the requirements of simple trespass, the judge could reduce your charges.

This defense could also be admissible in court if you threatened in jest and lacked the capability or intent to execute it. The victim could have taken you seriously and worried for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. In this case, your attorney must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the threat was not credible.

You could have lacked the required skills or the motivation to execute your threat. You could face a lesser punishment under PC 602 if your threat were not true, but your behavior met all the other requirements for trespassing.

Related Crimes

There are other crimes charged in place of or together with aggravated trespass. They include the following:

Criminal Threats – Penal Code 422

It is a crime under PC 422 to issue criminal threats against another person. You could be guilty under this law if you threaten to injure or take the life of someone else. In this case, you could be charged under PC 422 if the threat is believable enough to:

  • Trigger fear in the victim, making them fear for personal safety or
  • The safety of their loved ones

Just like threats in criminal trespass, you could issue criminal threats in writing, electronically, or verbally. A violation of PC 422 is a wobbler. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges, a jail term that does not exceed four years, and other serious repercussions.

Burglary – Penal Code 459

It is a crime under PC 459 to commit burglary. Burglary is defined under this law as entering someone else's home, business, or workplace intending to commit a theft or felony once inside. You could still face charges under PC 459 even if you did not commit theft or a felony while inside.

Burglary is classified into two levels: first-degree and second-degree burglaries. If you enter someone else's home to commit a serious crime, you could face first-degree burglary charges. On the other hand, you could face second-degree burglary charges if you enter someone else's business or a different structure.

Judges always charge first-degree burglary as a felony, which could attract a jail term of not more than four years. Second-degree burglary is normally charged as a wobbler. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges. If the judge charges you with a misdemeanor, you could face a jail term of not more than one year. If the judge charges you with a felony, you could face a jail term of not more than three years.

Trespass – Penal Code 602

The crime of trespassing is covered under PC 602. Trespass is defined under this statute as entering or remaining on someone else's property without their consent. This crime is always charged as a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges can attract a fine of not more than $1000. You could also face a jail term that does not exceed six months.

Most situations in California could qualify as trespassing. Some are regarded as usual, while others are considered unusual. You should work with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing trespassing charges. An attorney can help you create a strong defense strategy against your charges. Some of the defenses your attorney could present include:

  • You had the consent of the owner to enter or remain in their property.
  • There was no sign that the property was private, and the owner could also have failed to fence it. You cannot be charged with trespassing if the property is public.
  • You have the right to enter the place.

Right To Speedy Trial

A defendant is entitled to a speedy trial under the United States Constitution. Penal Code 1382 protects defendants who are detained or under suspicion indefinitely. Penal Code 1382 designates the period required for taking the accused to court, including the following:

  • The prosecutor must file formal charges against you within 15 days of your arrest
  • A trial for a misdemeanor should be set within 30 to 45 days of your arraignment
  • A trial for a felony should be set within 60 days of your arraignment

The statutory limits aim to prevent the following issues for the accused caused by trial delays:

  • Loss of physical evidence
  • To reduce the anxiety related to resolving the criminal case
  • To protect your capability to defend yourself
  • Fading memories
  • Witnesses relocating or dying

Being detained or under suspicion for a long time can have adverse effects on one's life. It could damage one's reputation, employment prospects, and relationships.

Sometimes, the time limit could be extended under specific circumstances. The judge could allow exemptions from the law under the following factors:

  • When there is a good reason for the judge to delay the trial date
  • If you requested another trial date or waived your speedy trial,

This right begins when you are arrested or the charges are filed against you.

Find a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

You could face severe repercussions if you are guilty of aggravated trespassing. Therefore, hiring an experienced criminal attorney to walk you through the legal process is essential. An attorney will ease your stress and make the process smooth. Your attorney will help you create a solid defense to fight your charges and obtain the best outcome. The Monterey Criminal Attorney has aggressive attorneys who can help you navigate all legal procedures. We will evaluate the charges against you and help you defend against them. Contact us at 831-574-1791 to speak to one of our attorneys.