If you’re facing criminal trespass charges in Redwood City, California, it’s important to understand the legal implications of your situation and what your options are for your defense.
In California, criminal trespass is defined as entering another person’s property without permission or right. Depending on the severity of the situation, a charge of criminal trespassing can result in a felony conviction, misdemeanor conviction, or an infraction.
Trespass as an Infraction
Entering another person’s property without permission is considered trespassing if a fence or “no trespassing” signs are posted. This is true even if you don’t do so willfully. In this case, the charge may be an infraction. Possible penalties include a $75 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for a second offense on the same property.
Trespass as a Misdemeanor
If you willfully enter someone else’s private property without permission or refuse to leave after being asked, then you may face misdemeanor criminal charges.
Common situations where these types of misdemeanor charges can be filed include:
- Entering someone else’s property without consent
- Refusing to leave their private property after being asked
- Entering a property with an intent to interfere with business operations
- Entering a property with an intent to damage it
- Rfusing to leave a hotel and failing to pay for services rendered
- Entering restricted or closed public land
Penalties for misdemeanor trespass in California include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
In order for an individual to be found guilty of aggravated trespass, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all four elements of the crime are present. These elements include the following:
- The defendant made a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury, meaning the defendant must have made some kind of verbal or written statement that would lead someone to reasonably believe they were in danger of suffering physical harm.
- The intent was to place the other person in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their family.
- Within 30 days, the defendant unlawfully entered the threatened person’s residence or workplace without permission from that person or any lawful authority.
- Finally, prosecutors must prove that upon entering either location mentioned above, there was no legitimate purpose for doing so. Rather, it was done with nefarious intentions stemming from their earlier threat.
When it comes to being arrested for aggravated trespass, the courts take the law very seriously and have set significant penalties upon conviction. Offenders can face up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000 for committing this offense.
To avoid being charged with trespassing, people should familiarize themselves with local laws surrounding private property and other restricted areas.
Legal Defenses to Criminal Trespass
If you have been charged with criminal trespass, there are many potential defenses you can utilize. Depending on your case’s facts, these defenses may be enough to have the charges dropped or dismissed.
The following are some of the most common legal defenses you may be able to raise:
You Did Not Act Willfully
For misdemeanor or felony trespass to occur, an individual must have knowingly and willfully entered someone else’s property without permission.
If an individual did not act willfully—for example, they were unaware that they were entering someone else’s property—then this might be used as a defense.
The Property Was Not Fully Enclosed With a Fence, or There Was Insufficient Signage
A complete enclosure means it is impossible to enter the property without stepping across some boundary point—such as a fence or shrub line. If the property was not fully enclosed or properly signed, this could be a valid defense against a trespass charge.
You Had the Right or Consent To Be on the Property
Express consent is when permission is given directly by either the owner or lawful occupant, allowing another person access to their premises.
Therefore, if an individual had explicit consent from either party, they cannot be held liable for any trespassing (as long as they did not exceed any limitations specified by the consent).
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With an Experienced Redwood City Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for criminal trespass in Redwood City, it’s important to speak with a lawyer so you can begin preparing your legal defense. For help, contact us at Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, today to schedule a free consultation at (408) 217-8818 with a trusted Redwood City criminal defense lawyer.