Los Angeles Criminal Trespassing Lawyer
If you’re facing criminal trespassing charges, contact Hurwitz Law Group to act as your Los Angeles lawyer today. California has strict laws concerning trespassing, or the unlawful entry onto private property. It’s important to note that trespassing can have both criminal and civil implications for offenders. A private property owner may sue for damages and the trespasser will face criminal charges from the state as well. It’s crucial to understand the trespassing laws in California to avoid criminal charges and civil liability. A Los Angeles lawyer can be a fantastic asset in any criminal trespassing case.
Defining Criminal Trespassing
California Penal Code Section 602 pertains to trespassing and contains very specific information for more than a dozen types of criminal trespass. The general definition for trespassing is refusing or failing to leave a private property or structure belonging to another party after the owner, an agent of the owner, or a peace officer requests the trespasser to leave the property. There are specific sections of the penal code that pertain to certain activities related to criminal trespassing, such as unauthorized digging or excavation, stealing crops, livestock, or cultivated food, or cutting down or destroyed timber or trees present on the property. There are many different penalties for trespassing on different types of property, depending on the offender’s intentions.
For a criminal trespassing charge to stick, prosecutors must prove that a defendant knowingly and willfully entered private property and intended to interfere with the property in some way. For example, a teenager walking home from work at night decides to take a quick shortcut through a neighbor’s yard. The teen didn’t have permission to enter the property but did not intend to interfere with the property in any way, so this would not qualify as criminal trespassing.
California law defines aggravated trespassing as any trespassing in which the offender uses force or threats of force while unlawfully present on private property, or when an offender makes a credible threat of bodily harm and then appears on the victim’s private property within 30 days of making the threat.
Criminal trespassing can result in an infraction with a $100 fine or a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Aggravated trespassing is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and fines up to $2,000. However, some incidents of aggravated trespassing will result in felony charges, punishable by up to three years in state prison plus fines.
Defenses Against Trespassing Charges
The most common defense against trespassing charges is poor marking. Property owners should clearly mark the entrances to their property as private to deter interlopers and to secure their position in a legal battle should a trespassing incident occur. Appropriate markings typically include “Do Not Enter” or “Private Property” signs visible from every point of entry onto the property. Offenders may claim they did not know the property was private when the trespassing occurred if the property owner did not use sufficient markings.
Other possible defenses include owner’s permission or claim of ownership. A defendant in a trespassing case must be able to prove that the property owner gave him or her permission to enter the property for such a defense to work. In some cases, a defendant can prove that owner provided or implied permission to enter the property to avoid criminal trespassing charges.
Hurwitz Law Group in Los Angeles has built one of the most successful defense firms in the area, thanks to our team’s unfaltering commitment to protecting the rights of the accused. We believe every person accused of a crime deserves a day in court to tell his or her side of the story, and we carefully examine every client’s case to look for any way to reduce or drop charges.