California Penal Code 601 outlines aggravated trespass. A PC 601 violation is the act of issuing threats of physical harm or even death to an individual, followed by unauthorized entry into their property, domicile, or workplace within 30 days of the threats.

Activities such as placing placards on someone else's premises could fall under the purview of aggravated trespass if prior threats have been established. While standard trespassing often warrants misdemeanor charges, the gravity of aggravated trespass can escalate the situation to felony charges in the eyes of the prosecution.

Should you or someone close to you face an arrest for aggravated trespass in Anaheim, you want to seek the counsel of a proficient criminal lawyer. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we can navigate the legal system and fight for your rights. Contact our office today.

The Meaning of “Aggravated Trespass” in California

California Penal Code 601 PC provides for "aggravated trespass." This legal statute forms the foundation for addressing aggravated trespass cases in the state. Under PC 601, you commit aggravated trespassing when you threaten to physically injure another person and enter their house or business premises without authorization.

The court can only sentence you if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Made a credible threat to cause bodily harm to someone else.
  • You made the threat intending to cause reasonable fear to someone else. The victim could fear for their safety and that of their loved ones.
  • Within 30 days after making the threat, you entered your victim’s residence without permission and intended to perform the threat.

The court does not require the prosecution to prove that your actions were “willful” in an aggravated trespass case.

Credible Threat

A credible threat refers to a specific type of threat that has several defining characteristics:

  • Reasonable Fear - A credible threat causes the plaintiff to reasonably fear for their safety or that of their immediate family. This fear is grounded in a genuine concern for personal safety or the safety of close relatives.
  • Capability to Carry Out the Threat - A credible threat is one that you are able to carry out. The accuser must perceive that you can execute it.
  • Various Forms - A credible threat can take multiple communication forms. It can be conveyed orally, in writing, or electronically. Additionally, a threat can be implied through patterns of conduct or a combination of statements and behavior.

An aggravated trespass is not merely the utterance of words; the perception of a legitimate and imminent danger defines this element of the offense.

Serious Bodily Injury

Serious bodily injury refers to a substantial impairment of a physical condition beyond minor injuries. It encompasses a range of conditions and consequences, which include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Concussions, especially those involving head injuries, could disrupt normal brain function.
  • Bone fractures. These injuries often necessitate medical treatment, including surgery and immobilization.
  • Protracted loss or impairment of function that results in lasting physical disabilities
  • Wounds requiring extensive suturing or stitching to address significant tissue damage or lacerations.
  • Serious disfigurement

Reasonable Fear

Reasonable fear pertains to the emotional and psychological state of the threat victim. The words and statements used in the threat are scrutinized to determine if they are of a nature that would cause a reasonable person to be fearful. The language and tone used can significantly impact the perception of fear.

The court considers your behavior and how it aligns with your words. Inconsistencies between words and actions can influence the assessment of reasonable fear. The presence of witnesses besides you and the victim can provide valuable context. Observers and witnesses may corroborate or refute the claim of credible fear.

The emotional and behavioral response of the victim to the threat is a critical factor. It helps gauge the genuine impact of the threat on the individual's state of mind. The existing relationship between you and the victim is examined. Prior interactions and history can prove the genuity of reasonable fear. Previous encounters or incidents may reveal patterns of behavior and interactions that contribute to assessing reasonable fear.

Immediate Family Member

An immediate family member encompasses specific familial relationships. These relationships include individuals who share close blood ties or marital bonds with the victim. The categories of immediate family members encompassed by this statute are as follows:

  • Spouse, parent, or child. This covers legally married individuals, biological or adoptive parents, and biological or adoptive children.
  • Grandchild, grandparent, brother, or sister This includes individuals who share direct blood relationships or are connected through legal familial bonds.
  • Any other person who regularly lives in the household. Immediate family members also encompass individuals who regularly reside in the same household as the victim. This broader category acknowledges the significance of individuals who share a living environment with the victim, even if they do not have a direct blood or legal relationship.

Including immediate family members in the statute recognizes the potential impact of a threat on the primary target and those closely connected to the victim. It acknowledges individuals' emotional and psychological well-being within the victim's immediate family and extends legal protection.

Common Legal Defenses To Penal Code 601 PC

 When facing accusations of a California PC 601 violation, you want to understand the defenses your defense attorney could employ to challenge these charges. A strong defense can be instrumental in reducing or even dismissing your charges altogether.

No Credible Threat

The defense of "no credible threat" revolves around the argument that the threat you made lacked the credibility or seriousness necessary to induce genuine fear in a reasonable person, thus challenging the essential element of the offense.

One way to establish this defense is by demonstrating that you made the threat in jest or as a figure of speech without an intention to harm or cause fear. In such cases, you may argue that your words were not meant to be taken seriously and were merely a form of expression without harmful intent.

The context in which you made the threat and your tone can significantly impact whether it is credible. If the circumstances surrounding the statement suggest that it was not meant to be taken seriously, it can strengthen your defense's position. For example, if the threat is lighthearted or sarcastic, it may not be viewed as credible.

The court is less likely to consider vague or lack specificity threats as credible. If the threat did not outline a clear and imminent danger or harm, you could argue that it does not meet the threshold for a credible threat.

Providing evidence, witnesses, or testimony that supports the assertion that the threat lacked credibility could substantiate this defense. Witnesses who can attest to the context, tone, and intent behind the statement can be valuable in reinforcing the defense's argument.

Successfully employing the defense of no credible threat requires a comprehensive examination of the circumstances surrounding the alleged threat and a persuasive argument that the statement in question does not constitute a credible threat. Legal counsel with expertise in criminal defense can play a critical role in building and presenting this defense in court.

No Intent To Cause Fear

The court could consider the defense of "no intent to cause fear" if you did not intend to induce fear in the plaintiff. One aspect of this defense is asserting that your statement was misconstrued or taken out of context. Your attorney may argue that the words spoken were not meant to be threatening and were not intended to cause fear.

You should prove that you did not make the threat in a menacing or intimidating manner. The absence of menacing behavior or tone can support the claim that fear was not the intended outcome. You could also argue that you had a different, lawful purpose for making the statement or taking the actions that led to the alleged threat. This could include scenarios where you intended to apologize, resolve a dispute, or engage in a non-threatening interaction.

Demonstrating that you engaged in good-faith communication with the accuser could bolster the argument that you had no intent to cause fear. Good-faith communication may involve sincere efforts to address an issue or misunderstanding.

The defense often relies on the subjective perception of the target of the threat. If you could show that the plaintiff did not genuinely believe you intended to cause fear, it could weaken the prosecution's case.

Successfully employing the defense of no intent to cause fear requires thoroughly examining the circumstances surrounding the alleged threat and compellingly arguing that fear was not the intended outcome.

No Intent To Carry Out Threat

In cases of aggravated trespass, demonstrating that you did not intend to follow through with the purported threat can significantly impact the outcome of the case. Building a robust defense under the argument of no intent to carry out the threat involves thoroughly examining and presenting evidence to substantiate the claim.

This defense aims to prove that you may have made a statement or action that appeared threatening but did not harbor any genuine intention to inflict harm or engage in any unlawful conduct. Your defense attorney could scrutinize any available documentation, including statements, communications, or other evidence, to demonstrate the lack of concrete plans or preparations to execute the threat.

Extenuating circumstances or misunderstandings might have led to the misinterpretation of your actions or statements. If available, you could also present witness testimonies to support the argument that your behavior or communication did not indicate a genuine intent to carry out any harmful actions.

You Did Not Trespass

The argument that "you did not trespass" could dispute the claim that you unlawfully entered the victim's residence or workplace, challenging a fundamental element of the offense under California law.

This defense's core is the assertion that you entered the premises lawfully and with either explicit permission or justifiable cause. This may involve demonstrating that you had a legitimate reason to be on the property, such as being invited by the property owner or tenant or having business-related reasons.

It is essential to establish that you did not intend to trespass when entering the property. This involves demonstrating that a lawful purpose drove your actions and did not involve any illicit or threatening intentions.

In some cases, you may provide evidence that the property owner or occupant explicitly permitted you to enter. This consent can serve as a strong argument against the allegation of trespass. If your entry was for business-related purposes and was not connected to any threat or malicious intent, it can further strengthen this defense. This may involve individuals entering workplaces for legitimate work-related tasks.

Presenting concrete evidence and credible witnesses who can attest to the lawful nature of your entry is instrumental in substantiating this defense. Witness testimony, documents, or records may support the claim of lawful entry.

Sentencing, Punishment, and Penalties For Felony Trespassing In California

The consequences for felony trespassing can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Aggravated trespassing as a "wobbler" offense. So, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the severity of the offense and your criminal history.

If the charge is pursued as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include:

  • Misdemeanor or summary probation.
  • Up to one year in county jail.
  • A maximum fine of $2,000

If the charge is elevated to a felony, the potential penalties become more severe and may include:

  • Felony or formal probation
  • Up to three years in county jail.
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

Several factors can influence the decision to charge aggravated trespass as a misdemeanor or felony, including:

  • Your prior criminal record.
  • The seriousness of the threat you made.
  • The level of fear you induced in the victim.
  • Whether you unlawfully entered the victim's residence or workplace.
  • Any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

A felony conviction can have more significant and long-lasting consequences, including potential restrictions on firearm ownership and negative immigration effects, discussed in the sections below.

Immigration Consequences Upon a PC 601 Conviction

 Under United States immigration law, certain criminal convictions can lead to adverse immigration outcomes, including deportation and inadmissibility. Certain crimes, often characterized by dishonesty or immorality, are considered crimes of moral turpitude. Convictions for these offenses can lead to deportation or inadmissibility.

Convictions classified as aggravated felonies under immigration law can result in deportation and other severe consequences. The definition of aggravated felonies includes a range of offenses, and a felony trespass charge may potentially qualify if it meets the criteria.

In the case of felony trespass, the potential immigration effects may be significant. Depending on the specific circumstances and the classification of the offense as a felony, it may be categorized as an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. If so, it can have detrimental immigration effects, potentially leading to deportation or inadmissibility.

Expunging a Penal Code 601 Conviction

If you are convicted of aggravated trespass in California, seeking an expungement is an important consideration. An expungement, as defined by Penal Code 1203.4, can significantly impact an individual's criminal record and related legal consequences.

Not all individuals with a Penal Code 601 PC conviction are eligible for an expungement. To be eligible, several criteria must typically be met:

  • Successful completion of probation if imposed.
  • There are no current criminal charges or convictions.
  • Compliance with all court orders and obligations.

An expungement can offer you several benefits, including:

  • Removal of certain employment barriers since employers may not be able to consider the expunged conviction.
  • Improved housing prospects, as landlords may not be able to consider the expunged conviction.
  • Enhanced eligibility for certain professional licenses
  • A fresh start and peace of mind

The process for seeking an expungement typically involves the following steps:

  • Petitioning the court for expungement.
  • Providing relevant documentation and information.
  • Attending a court hearing, if required.
  • Receiving a court order for expungement.

While an expungement can have positive effects on various aspects of life, it may not necessarily eliminate immigration consequences for non-citizens. Non-citizens need to consult with an immigration attorney to understand the specific implications of their immigration status.

Seeking the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney is advisable when pursuing an expungement. Legal counsel can assess eligibility, navigate the expungement process, and provide valuable assistance in presenting a strong case for expungement.

How Does an Aggravated Trespass Conviction Affect Your Gun Rights?

In California, individuals convicted of felonies, including felony trespass, are generally prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms. This prohibition extends to those who have been convicted of a felony offense in any jurisdiction.

Given that Penal Code 601 PC classifies aggravated trespass as a "wobbler" offense, whether you face firearm restrictions depends on whether the conviction is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony conviction is more likely to result in firearm prohibitions.

If you already own a firearm, you may be required to surrender it or have it confiscated following a felony conviction. Compliance with firearm surrender orders is crucial to avoid further legal issues. While a felony conviction often leads to firearm prohibitions, some individuals may be eligible for exemptions or restoration of their gun rights under certain circumstances. These processes can be complex and typically involve legal proceedings.

Given the potential consequences for gun rights, individuals facing aggravated trespass charges and concerned about firearm ownership should seek legal counsel with expertise in both criminal defense and firearm-related matters. Legal advice is essential for understanding individual rights and options.

Pursuing an expungement for the underlying conviction, if eligible, may be a strategy to potentially restore firearm rights. However, the effectiveness of this approach can vary based on individual circumstances and legal requirements.

Laws Related To This Statute

Penal Code 601 PC, which addresses aggravated trespass in California, exists within a broader legal framework that encompasses related statutes.

Trespass, California Penal Code 602

California Penal Code 602 PC deals with the crime of trespassing. This statute outlines various forms of trespass and the associated elements, penalties, and potential defenses. Trespass involves entering or remaining on someone else's property without their permission or legal right to be there. Trespassing encompasses a wide range of actions, including entering land or property, refusing to leave when asked and entering specified locations, such as agricultural lands or certain types of structures.

The penalties for trespass under PC 602 can vary based on the specific circumstances and the type of trespass committed. It can range from a misdemeanor conviction that carries no more than a 6-month jail term or a $1,000 fine to an aggravated felony with potential prison time. Potential defenses to a trespass charge may include lack of intent, mistaken identity, consent, or lawful authority to be on the property. The applicability of defenses depends on the unique facts of each case.

Burglary, California Penal Code 459

California Penal Code 459 addresses the crime of burglary. Burglary involves entering a residential or commercial building or room with the intent to commit a felony or theft once inside. Importantly, the entry itself with criminal intent constitutes burglary, even if the intended crime is not completed.

Burglary in California is divided into first-degree burglary (residential) and second-degree burglary (other structures). First-degree burglary is always a felony, attracting a hefty fine of not more than $10,000 or a 16-month, 2-year, or 3-year jail term. Second-degree burglary can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Defenses to a burglary charge may include lack of intent, mistaken identity, lack of evidence, or issues related to the specific elements of the offense.

Criminal Threats, California Penal Code 422

Criminal threats under California PC 422 involve making specific threats to kill or physically harm someone, causing the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. The threat must be specific, unequivocal, and communicated verbally, in writing, or electronically.

Criminal threats can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If facing a misdemeanor charge, penalties may include a jail term not exceeding one year or fines not exceeding $1,000. For felony probation, you could face no more than $10,000 in fines or a prison term not exceeding three years.

The classification depends on various factors, including the severity of the threat and the defendant's criminal history. Defenses to a criminal threat charge may include challenging the specificity of the threat, demonstrating a lack of intent to carry out the threat, or disputing the communication of the threat.

Find a Competent Anaheim Criminal Attorney Near Me

When you face aggravated trespass charges in Anaheim, you need to have a seasoned legal representative by your side. The implications can be far-reaching, from a criminal record to deportation if you are a non-citizen. A competent defense attorney can assess the weight of the prosecution's claims, build a strong defense, negotiate for a favorable plea bargain, or fight for your innocence in court. Do not take any unnecessary risks with your future. Contact us, the California Criminal Lawyer Group, at 714-766-0965. Let our expertise protect your rights and resolve your case favorably.