Penal Code 601 PC - Aggravated Trespass in California
Suppose you make credible threats to harm another person physically and then enter their home or workplace without permission. In that case, you could face charges of aggravated trespassing, defined under California Penal Code 601PC.
This statute is the more serious offense of Penal Code 602, misdemeanor trespassing, and is often related to domestic violence.
Simply put, if you credibly threaten someone and enter their home or employment soon after, you could be charged with PC 601 aggravated trespassing, which carries up to three years in jail if convicted.
To be convicted, a prosecutor must prove all the “elements of the crime," including that you made a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury to another person intending to place them in reasonable fear for their safety or their family.
PC 601 says, “(a) Any person is guilty of trespass who makes a credible threat to cause serious bodily injury, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 417.6, to another person with the intent to place them in reasonable fear for their safety, or immediate family, as defined in subdivision (l) of Section 646.9, and who does any of the following:
(1) Within 30 days of the threat, unlawfully enter into the residence or real property contiguous to the residence of the person threatened without lawful purpose and with the intent to execute the threat against the target of the threat.
(2) Within 30 days of the threat, knowing that the place is the threatened person's workplace, unlawfully enters into the workplace of the person threatened and carries out an act or acts to locate the threatened person within the workplace premises without lawful purpose, and with the intent to execute the threat against the target of the threat.”
What Does the Law Say?
Trespassing is generally described as entering or remaining on somebody's property without permission.
Trespassing becomes “aggravated” when a credit threat to inflict a serious bodily injury against a victim or their family is made, followed by the perpetrator entering their home or work to execute the threat.
Thus, to convict you of PC 601, prosecutors have to prove all the elements of the crime, including that you did all of the following:
- Made a "credible threat" to cause a serious bodily injury against somebody or their immediate family members;
- Had intent to place the victim or family in reasonable fear for safety;
- Within 30 days of making the threat, you entered the victim's residence without a lawful purpose to carry out the threat; or you entered their place of employment, knowing they worked there, and then took direct steps to find them to execute the threat.
Notably, you do not have to carry out the threat to be charged and convicted of PC 601 aggravated trespassing; instead, only that you intended to carry out the threat when you trespassed.
Other Factors About Aggravated Trespassing
- A credible threat under California law is one that you appear to have the ability to carry out, and it places the victim or their immediate family in reasonable fear for their safety or that of their family;
- Reasonable fear is described as the fear that an average person would reasonably experience under a similar situation;
- Serious bodily injury is an injury that could potentially cause significant impairment, such as broken bones, concussion, serious wounds, etc.;
- Immediate family members are spouses, children, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, or anyone who regularly lives in the residence.
What are the Related Laws?
Several California crimes are related to Penal Code 601 PC aggravated trespassing, such as the following:
- Penal Code 602 PC – trespassing;
- Penal Code 422 PC – criminal threats;
- Penal Code 646.9 PC – stalking;
- Penal Code 459 PC – burglary;
- Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC – domestic battery;
- Penal Code 273.5 PC – corporal injury to a spouse;
- Penal Code 136.1 PC – witness intimidation.
What Are the Penalties?
- Misdemeanors carry up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Felonies carry up to three years in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Judges can impose summary or formal probation rather than jail time.
What Are the Legal Defenses?
Suppose you are accused of violating Penal Code 601 aggravated kidnapping law. In that case, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers could use different strategies based on the case details, as discussed below.
Maybe we could argue that you did make a credible threat. Perhaps you were not serious or did not have the physical ability to carry it out.
Maybe we can argue that you did not intend to cause the alleged victim reasonable fear. Perhaps we can reasonably say the alleged victim was not in fear.
Maybe we can say that you did not intend to carry out the threat. Perhaps we can show that while you did enter their home or workplace, there was no intent to carry out the threat or injure them.
Maybe we could negotiate with the prosecution prefiling to prevent criminal charges from being filed (DA reject). Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation and to discuss legal options. Cron, Israels & Stark have offices in Los Angeles, CA.