California Penal Code Section 602.1 PC: Interfering Or Obstructing A Public Business Establishment

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimepublic business obstruction

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are protected rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is not unusual on any given day to see large public protests conducted outside of private businesses. However, there are limits to how a protest can legally be conducted and protests or other activities that interfere or obstruct a business may be illegal. California Penal Code Section 602.1 PC makes it illegal to interfere or obstruct a public business establishment and conviction of this offense can result in significant penalties.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of interfering or obstructing a public business establishment, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant interfered with a lawful business or occupation carried on by the owner or agent of a business establishment open to the public
  2. The defendant did so by obstructing or intimidating persons attempting to carry on business or their customers
  3. The defendant was requested to leave the premises of the business establishment by the owner, the owner’s agent or a peace officer acting at the request of the owner or the owner’s agent.
  4. The defendant refused to leave the premises of the business establishment
  5. AND the defendant’s actions were intentional.
2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Trespassing - California Penal Code Section 602 PC
  2. Aggravated Trespass California Penal Code Section 601 PC
  3. Unlawful AssemblyCalifornia Penal Code Section 408 PC
  4. Picketing Near Court to Obstruct Justice California Penal Code Section 169 PC
3. Examples

A group wants to stage an assembly outside of a large department store to protest what it considers to be unfair labor practices and the use of child labor overseas. The group blocks the main entrance to the store and intimidates customers and store employees as they enter and exit the premises. The members of the group could be charged with interfering or obstructing a public business establishment in violation of California Penal Code Section 602.1 PC.

In a similar example, the same group stages its protest at the store, however the members of the group are careful not to block any doors or prevent anyone from entering or exiting the building. While members of the group hold signs and chant slogans, they do not intimidate or approach customers or employees. In this example, the group’s protest would be acceptable and they would not be criminally liable for this offense.

4. Defenses to Interfering or Obstructing a Public Business Establishment

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and groups or individuals are allowed to stage protests in close proximity to business establishments. In cases where the groups do not interfere or obstruct the business, there would be no criminal liability under the statute. In addition, if the group or individual was never actually asked to leave by an owner or agent of the owner, they could not later be prosecuted for this offense, as this is a required element of the crime.

5. Penalties

Interfering or obstructing a public business establishment is a misdemeanor level offense. Those convicted of this offense can be sentenced to 90 days in jail, community labor or community service, expensive court fines and any other conditions of probation that a judge may consider suitable.

6. Criminal Defense for Interfering or Obstructing a Public Business Establishment Cases

Interfering or obstructing a public business establishment is a criminal offense that can result in a conviction on a person’s criminal record, which may be detrimental to future housing or employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with this offense, it is very important that you consult with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is adept at defending individuals charged with offenses like this. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges and prosecutors as a passionate advocate who is dedicated to his clients.

For more information about interfering or obstructing a public business establishment, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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