There are trivial things that can be considered as trespassing. Playing loud music, interfering with the legal business that goes on in a restricted place, and entering a residential property without the consent of the owner are considered trespassing. If you are convicted of trespass, it will appear in your criminal record. However, things will be even worse if it is realized that you made threats to cause bodily injuries on a person then entered their place of work or home without permission. You will have committed aggravated trespass, which is one of the property crimes that attracts harsh penalties upon conviction. The Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is the place to go when facing aggravated trespass charges. Our attorneys will build a solid defense that will help prevent harsh penalties. We have highlighted the following issues to help you understand the things that can cause you to be charged with this crime, what the prosecution must prove, and how to build a strong defense.
Legal Definition of Aggravated Trespass
As per PC 601, aggravated trespass is deemed as making credible threats to cause physical injuries to another person then enter their property or workplace without permission within thirty days of making the threats. The offense is also called felony trespass or trespass after threatening someone. For you to be charged with violating PC 601, there must be aggravating circumstances. In regular intrusion, most first time offenders don’t go to prison, and instead, they are asked not to repeat the crime. But if it is discovered that you intended to injure someone when you trespassed, then it means you will be charged with felony trespass because of the aggravating circumstances surrounding your actions. The prosecution might opt to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony because this offense is considered a wobbler in California.
Prosecution of Aggravated Trespass Case
The prosecuting party must have proof that you committed felony trespass. To prove to the court that you are guilty, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- You Made Credible Threats to Physically Harm or Inflicted Serious Bodily Injuries
Threats can be made through digital means, verbally, or in writing. The coercions are implied or credible if they are intended to cause the target panic for his or her security or that of his or her immediate family, and the maker of the threats can act on them or carry them out. If you had threatened another person to cause physical harm, the prosecutor must show that you possessed the ability to cause severe impairment of physical condition like:
- A wound that requires extensive stitching
- Loss of consciousness
- Broken bone
- Serious disfigurement
- You Made the Threats with Intent to Cause the Target Reasonable Fear
The prosecutor must explain the facts and circumstances surrounding the act because it is these facts the court analyzes to determine if the target of the threats felt that his or her security or that of the direct or close family is threatened. The prosecutor will present the jury with the following things:
- You verbal messages to the target
- Your conduct or pattern of behavior after the threats
- An eyewitness who was present when you, as the defendant, made threats to the victim.
- The reaction of the victim towards the threats
- Your relationship and that of the victim
- Your previous encounters with the victim
The jury will evaluate these things to determine if the plaintiff incurred any reasonable fear. If the threats didn’t make the plaintiff feel that he or she was in a panic, it must have made the plaintiff fear for the safety of his or her immediate family. An immediate family member, in this case, is a spouse, parent, child, and a person who lives in the plaintiff’s home. Any person who is a grandchild, grandparent, or sibling related to the plaintiff by blood or marriage is also a close family member.
- Thirty-Day Duration
The prosecutor must also prove that within thirty days of making the threats, you gained unauthorized access to the plaintiff’s place of work or home, fully aware that it is his or her workplace or home, and tried to find him or her with the intent to act on your threats. The court will believe that you wanted to carry out the terrorization you made when you intruded in the target’s place, which means you will be found guilty of felony trespass.
It is important to note that you can’t be convicted of felony trespass if the place you entered is your residence, workplace, or business. You could not be charged with PC 601 if you entered a property that you are entitled to enter. Also, people attached to labor union activities or those authorized by the California Labor Relations Act are subject to exemption from felony trespassing.
Penalties for PC 601 Charges
A conviction of felony trespass is dependent on your criminal record and the nature of the allegations you are facing. The two factors will determine how the judge or jury will decide on your sentence. Because PC 601 violation is a wobbler, in the event of a conviction for misdemeanor PC 601, you will be subject to the following penalties:
- Summary probation
- Incarceration for as much as 364 days in county jail
- Fines not beyond dollars two thousand
If the preferred charge against you is a felony, felony trespass will carry the following penalties:
- Felony or formal probation
- Sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months’ jail sentence
- A court fine of as much as ten thousand dollars
Immigration Consequences of a Conviction for Violating PC 601
If you are convicted for aggravated trespass, be prepared for adverse immigration consequences. If you are an immigrant, you become inadmissible, while for a non-citizen, you become deportable.
PC 601 Conviction and Gun Rights
If you are convicted of a violation of PC 601, you might lose your gun rights. But this depends on the type of charge that has been filed against you. If you are charged with misdemeanor PC 601 and convicted, your right to gun ownership or possession will be preserved. However, for felony PC 601 conviction, you will be forced to surrender or give up your gun rights. Apart from felony PC 601 convicts, other people that are prohibited from ownership or possession of a gun include:
- Narcotic addicts
- Individuals with two or more convictions for flaunting a weapon
- Persons under the age of 18
- Individuals with mental illnesses
It is important to note that being found guilty under PC 601 can have adverse effects on your life, even in the long run. Because of this, it is essential once you have completed probation, and you are not currently serving any sentence that you apply for expungement. Your felony trespass conviction will be cleared, and it will be as if you were never convicted.
Legal Defenses to Allegations of Aggravated Trespass
Defending against felony trespass is not a simple task. It requires a criminal attorney who will take advantage of the elements proved by the prosecution to show that you are not guilty of the offense. Some of the defenses that can be used to fight PC 601 charges include:
Lack of Credible Threat
You can fight the charges against you by claiming that the alleged credible threats were not reliable. Your attorney must, however, present facts and circumstances to show that although you made threats, you did so jokingly, and you didn’t cause the victim sensible panic for his or her life or that of close family members.
Lack of Requisite Intent to Act on the Threat
As mentioned earlier, the prosecution will prove you are guilty if they can show the judge and the jury that your intentions when you trespassed were to act on your threats. It means that you can defend yourself by claiming that you lacked requisite plans to make the threat real. A good argument can be you entered the home, workplace, or business of the target of your threats to apologize and not in a real sense, carry out the intimidation.
You Didn't Realize You Entered Another Person’s Real Property, Workplace or Residence
It is possible to claim that you were not aware that the person you had threatened had property rights or entitlement in ownership, business, or workstation. So, if you made threats to a person, then after two weeks find them at their workplace, but you didn’t know they worked there, then you can claim you didn’t realize that you had entered the victim’s place of work or you did so by accident.
Offenses Related to PC 601 Statute
Some crimes are similar or related to aggravated trespass. The offenses include:
According to PC 602, trespassing is entering or remaining in someone else’s property or place of work without permission or right to be there. PC 602 is violated if:
- Enter into someone’s property to interfere with regular business
- Gain access to another person’s property with the intent to cause destructions
- Illegal occupying property belonging to someone else
- Refusal to leave another person’s estate after being requested by the owner to leave
- Refusal to leave a public premise when they are not open to the public after being asked by an employee of the place to go.
You are guilty of regular trespass if the prosecutor can prove that:
- You willfully gained access or intruded into someone else’s property without their permission.
- During the time you accessed the property, you intended to interfere with regular business.
- You succeeded to interfere with the owner’s business
If the prosecution succeeds in convincing the jury and the judge of the above elements, you will be convicted. If you had been charged with trespassing as an infraction, a conviction would attract a small fine. But for a misdemeanor trespass conviction, you can face no more than six months in jail or fines as much as one thousand dollars.
Although these penalties might appear as light, you should try and avoid them by building a strong defense. You can begin by claiming that you had consent from the owner to access the property. Furthermore, you can argue that you didn’t occupy the plaintiff’s property. This defense holds in cases where you have been accused or charged with refusing to leave or occupying another individual’s estate after being asked by the owner to leave. Arguing that the duration you were on the property was short, and your presence on the estate didn’t interfere with the property use or enjoyment by the owner will help you walk free.
Also, you can claim that you lacked the intent to interfere with the owner’s business. Remember, the prosecutor uses purpose to interfere with property usage by the owner to convict you. Therefore, if you assert that you lacked intent to interfere with the regular business of the property, then you are not guilty. Finally, you can argue that you are a union member or a person authorized to take part in union-organized activities, and therefore, you were not trespassing.
Keep in mind that PC 601 and PC 602 are similar. The only difference is that in PC 601, there are aggravating circumstances. For PC 601 to occur, you must commit the offense of trespass and, besides, have the intent to cause physical harm or to carry out a threat that you had made.
It is defined under PC 459 as entering the property of another person with plans to commit a felony. The offense is closely related to PC 601, where you come into someone else’s property intending to violate PC 601. Remember, you cannot be charged with both PC 601 and burglary at once. The prosecution has to pick a charge that they prefer or which they have strong evidence to support.
It is imperative to note that burglary is divided into two categories that are 1st degree and 2nd degree. Residential burglary is one that involves residential properties, while second degree or commercial burglary focuses on thefts on commercial properties. If you are arrested and charged with business or second-degree burglary, the offense will be filed as a misdemeanor. The punishment for conviction under this charge is no more than one hundred and eighty-day incarceration. On the other hand, if you are charged with residential or first-degree burglary, a conviction will attract a jail sentence of up to thirty-six months.
- Criminal Threats
The offense is codified under PC 422 as threatening to cause serious bodily injury or death. You would be charged and convicted with violation of Penal Code 422 even if you didn’t act on or carry out the threats. If you threaten severe bodily injuries or to kill another individual and that:
- An individual is in this manner placed in a state of reasonable persistent fright for his or her security or that of a close family.
- The intimidation is definite and explicit
- You communicated the threat through digital means, orally or in an inscription
A violation of PC 422 is a wobbler. The penalties for misdemeanor PC 422 conviction are:
- No more than twelve months in jail
- As much as $1000 in court fines
A felony PC 422 conviction, on the other hand, is subject to:
- As much as forty-eight months in prison
- No more than $10,000 court fines
- Domestic Violence
PC 273.5 defines this offense causing significant bodily injury or corporal injury to an intimate partner or former intimate partner. The crime is often charged with aggravated trespass. Just like PC 601, PC 273.5 is a wobbler. In the event, misdemeanor charges are filed against you, and you are successfully convicted, you incur the following penalties:
- Summary probation
- No more than 364 days in jail
- A restraining order forbidding you from contacting the alleged victim for as much as one hundred and twenty months.
A felony sentence, on the other hand, will subject you to:
- Felony or formal probation
- 24, 36, or 48 months’ incarceration in state prison
- A protective order barring you from seeing or contacting the victim
California PC 646.9 refers to this crime as harassing or threatening someone else to the extent the person fears for his or her safety and that of his loved ones. The offense relates to PC 601 in that you can be charged with stalking on top of felony trespass. When charged and convicted of misdemeanor stalking, the potential punishment includes:
- Summary probation
- No more than twelve months in jail
- Court fines of as much as dollars one thousand
- Possible mental illness program run by California state
- A protective order forbidding any contact with the plaintiff or the victim
If charged with felony stalking and found guilty of the offense, you will incur the following punishment:
- Felony probation
- Sixteen to sixty months’ incarceration in prison
- No less than $1000 court fines
- Protecting order prohibiting contact with the victim
- Registering as a sex offender
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
It is overwhelming to find a criminal defense attorney when you are facing aggravated trespass or other property crimes. Luckily, the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney specializes in property crimes; hence we are available to provide the profound expertise and experience you need to build a strong defense against these charges. Contact us today at 424-333-0943 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.