Aggravated Felony Trespass in California

Criminal Defense Picture

Aggravated trespass is a more severe form of trespass that leads to felony charges. In California, if you threaten or injure a person physically and later trespass on their property, including their home or workplace, you can face charges for this crime. 

Any criminal charges are a serious matter. If California law enforcement and prosecutors investigate charges for the crime, you need to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

California Penal Code 601 

Prosecutors must demonstrate the following elements to convict you of aggravated trespassing: 

  • That you made a credible threat to enact severe bodily injury on another person 
  • That you made that threat with the intent to cause the other individual to reasonably fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family 
  • That you unlawfully entered the victim's residence or workplace within 30 days of making that threat, with the intent to carry out the threat

There are aspects of each element that might need further clarification. For instance, a credible threat is one that causes reasonable fear, and that being the accused seems capable of carrying out the act. The threat can come in various forms, including oral, in writing, or through electronic communication. Sometimes, courts find that a person implies their threats through behavior patterns or a combination of statements and actions. 

Reasonable fear is also an issue the court must evaluate. Judges and juries can review your behavior, the messages, conduct, question witnesses, review the victim's reaction to any threats, look at the relationship between you and the alleged victim, and evidence regarding any previous encounters between you and the alleged victim. 

When threats involve people other than the threat recipient, the court will look to determine if the threat is about an immediate family member. For purposes of 601 PC, spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, and anyone who regularly lives with the recipient of the threat will qualify. 

Penalties for Violating 601 PC

Prosecutors can charge aggravated trespass as a misdemeanor or a felony. In the case of a misdemeanor, you might face probation, up to one year in jail, and a fine of at most $2000. California uses the term summary probation to refer to misdemeanor probation, and the process involved in this form of probation is different from felony or formal probation. 

If prosecutors charged the crime as a felony, the result could be formal probation, at most three years in jail, and a fine of at most $10,000. You should always remember that criminal convictions remain on your record. Committing a felony may lead to later consequences, including challenges obtaining employment or housing. 

Consequences for Immigrants

If you are an immigrant, you can face specific immigration-related consequences for violating 601 PC. Some criminal charges can lead to deportation or mark an individual as inadmissible to the United States. 

Crimes that lead to deportation and inadmissibility include:

  • Those deemed crimes of moral turpitude
  • Certain drug-related offenses
  • Aggravated felonies 
  • Firearm-related crimes
  • Domestic violence. 

Felony trespass is sometimes an aggravated felony. In such circumstances, immigrants can face severe penalties that will impact their ability to remain in, move to, or visit the United States. 

Gun Rights and Violations of 601 PC

Certain felonies can lead to the loss of a person's right to bear arms. While the Second Amendment provides the right to gun ownership and possession, there are restrictions on that right, and the government can prohibit individuals from owning or possessing firearms. Committing aggravated felony trespass could lead to these consequences. 

Defending Against Charges for 601 PC

There are ways to defend against charges for aggravated trespass. Some differences that frequently apply in these cases will include claiming that you did not make a credible threat, that you did not intend to cause fear, or that you had no intention of carrying out the threat. 

Stating that there is no credible threat means you will need to prove, but you did not make a serious threat toward the alleged victim. In some cases, the statements might be jokes or sarcasm. You would need to prove that this is the case in order to avoid conviction. 

You could also argue that while you did make a threat, your goal was not to cause the other person to fear. If you threaten to take any action that is clearly not likely to cause harm, this might be the case. 

You might also demonstrate that you had no intention to carry out the stated threat. If, for example, you arrived at the victim's workplace to issue an apology, then you did not enter that property with the intent to carry out your stated threat. 

The proper defense in your case depends heavily on the specific facts. It is necessary to discuss a clear case with an experienced lawyer who can help you build a defense strategy. 

Expungement and 601 PC

Expungement is a process that involves removing a criminal record. Expunging a conviction for aggravated trespass could help you obtain a job because you do not need to disclose that conviction to possible employers. 

Before you can seek expungement, he will need to complete all the terms of your probation or sentence and not have charges pending any other criminal violations. Speak to a California criminal defense lawyer to learn more about the option of expungement. 

Similar Charges to 601 PC

Several charges are similar to aggravated trespass. For example, California defines trespass in Penal Code 602, which prohibits entering or remaining on another person's property without permission. This crime is a misdemeanor and can lead to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000. 

Burglary is another similar offense, which involves entering a residential or commercial structure with the intent to carry out theft or another felony within that building or property. The intent to commit the felony is essential in this crime, but it is not necessary for the individual to complete the proposed felony. Burglary is often a felony, although second-degree burglary might lead to misdemeanor charges. 

Criminal threats involve a threat to harm or kill a person. The threat must reasonably cause the individual to fear for their safety or the safety of a family member. It must also be unequivocal and specific. The offender must make that threat either verbally, in writing, or through electronic communication. This crime is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and the prosecutor's decision. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal charges are serious regardless of whether they are misdemeanors or felonies. If you are facing charges under 601 PC, you should consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney.