November 15, 2017 7:04 am Published by

LEARN ABOUT CRIMINAL TRESPASSING – California Penal Code Section 601 & 602

The crime of trespassing is usually filed against a person when the authorities tell them not to go onto a location or onto a property and then the same person is found on that property and the owner now wants to press criminal charges against them. Also, someone can be arrested and charged with trespassing who is found in a location that it is clear they should not be in and are likely up to no good.

Trespassing is covered under California Penal Code 602 and aggravated trespassing is covered under California Penal Code 601.

Many times I see this crime charged when neighbors have a dispute and the police tell one neighbor not to go near the other one’s property and low and behold a problem occurs, the police are called out and the person they told not to trespass has ignored them. They are then going to get arrested and charged with trespassing.

Most of the trespassing cases I see, the person who is arrested ignored posted signs that said no trespassing or they went onto someone else’s property under circumstances that they reasonably should have known that it would be a crime to do so.

I also see people arrested and charged who go into public locations like parks or other land owned by the state after hours and the authorities cite them for the crime of trespassing because it was clear under the circumstances that it was not appropriate to be in the particular locations that they were found.

Another scenario that I see people having to plead to a trespassing case is when they are originally arrested for one crime (like stealing or domestic violence) and their attorney is able to negotiate the lesser charge of trespassing for them so they do not have to pled guilty to a more serious crime.

In other words the prosecutors use it as a throw away crime to say to the person we will give you a break and no make you take a more serious charge, but we want something on your record because what you did was wrong and it deserves consequences.


One common defense to trespassing is when the accused says that they had no idea that they were trespassing in the first place. Whether the argument will fly with the police, prosecutors, judge or even a jury will hinge upon whether a reasonable person in the shoes of the defendant should have known that they were trespassing.

This is determined by the particular facts of the case and it will ultimately be argued to a jury if some sort of a resolution is not negotiated.

Another defense to trespassing is for the defendant to argue that they had permission from the owner or another to be on the particular property. This can be a complete defense to the crime of trespassing and will be evaluated by the surrounding circumstances of the particular case and of course by the use of common sense.

If the person arrested has no proof that they know the owner of the property, then it will be a tough road to hoe in order to prove that they are not guilty of the crime of trespassing.


Typically the prosecutors will not seek jail time in these cases and a fine will be imposed by the judge. Sometimes it is possible to convince the judge to give the defendant a diversionary disposition, where they are able to earn a dismissal after a certain period of time remaining arrest free and complying with the terms and conditions that the court imposes on them.

Further, the court will usually order the defendant to stay off the property they were found trespassing on for the period of the probation and will severely punish them if they disobey this order.

Other punishments can include community service, cal trans and community labor. In these cases, the punishment will usually fit the crime. If the trespassing was blatant and the authorities suspect that the perpetrator was up to no good and was targeting another more serious crime, then they will try and lower the boom on them.

If, on the other hand, the trespass was not that serious and the person has no criminal record, then they will usually be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes the their punishment. Contact the Hedding Law Firm for help.

Categorised in: