California Penal Code Section 601 PC: Aggravated Trespass
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
In most cases, trespassing is a misdemeanor-level offense that does not result in severe criminal penalties. However, under California Penal Code Section 601 PC, aggravated trespass is potentially a felony that can trigger prison sentences for those convicted.
In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of aggravated trespass, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:
- The defendant made a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury to another person
- The defendant made the threat with the intent to place the other person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or for the safety of his or her immediate family
- AND within 30 days of making the threat, the defendant unlawfully entered the threatened person’s residence without a lawful purpose or with the intent to carry out the threat or the defendant knowingly entered the workplace of the threatened person, and tried to locate that person without a lawful purpose and with the intent to carry out the threat.
A credible threat is one that causes the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family and one that the maker of the threat appears able to carry out. The threat may be made orally, in writing or electronically or may be implied by a pattern of conduct or a combination of statements and conduct.
California Penal Code Section 601 PC does not apply if the person making the threat enters his or her own residence, real property or workplace. This code section also does not apply to any person who is engaged in labor union activities permitted by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act or the National Labor Relations Act.
2. Related Offenses
Similar offenses include the following:
- Criminal Threats - California Penal Code Section 422 PC
- Trespass - California Penal Code Section 602 PC
- Burglary – California Penal Code Section 459 PC
- Stalking – California Penal Code Section 646.9 PC
A man gets into a verbal argument with an acquaintance that gets heated. The man threatens to beat the other man up over insulting comments the other man made in the past. After the argument the two men go their separate ways, with the second man telling the first he never wants to see him again. Two weeks later, the first man is coming home from a bar and realizes he is close to the other man’s house. He walks onto the other man’s property with the intention to make due on his earlier threat and to physically beat the man. This man could be charged with aggravated trespass because he entered another person’s property uninvited with the intent to carry out a credible threat.
In the same example, two weeks after the original argument, the first man feels bad and wants to apologize to the other man. He knows where the other man works so he goes to his office during the day in order to apologize. In this situation, the man could not be prosecuted for aggravated trespass under California Penal Code Section 601 PC because his intent was to apologize, and not to carry out his threat.
4. Defenses to Aggravated Trespass
There are situations where the defendant’s presence on the property of another was completely accidental. This may often be the case where the defendant is accused of aggravated trespass at a victim’s place of work and the defendant did not know the other person worked there. In these circumstances, the defendant would have a strong accident defense if charged with aggravated trespass.
Aggravated trespass is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the factual circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant can face up to a year in jail and costly court fines. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sent to prison for up to three years.
6. Criminal Defense for Aggravated Trespass
If you have been accused of aggravated trespass, it is very important that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly experienced at defending people charged with offenses such as this. Mr. Kraut is dedicated to his clients and works tirelessly to ensure they get the best representation possible.
For more information about aggravated trespass, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.