Under California law, trespassing is entering or remaining in another person’s property without their consent. You commit a criminal offense of aggravated trespass when you intentionally disrupt, obstruct, or intimidate other people from doing lawful activities. If you threaten or cause injury to another person while trying to enter their personal or business premises, you can get arrested and charged with aggravated trespass. In most cases, mere trespassing is not a severe offense and does not result in serious legal consequences. However, aggravated trespass charges under California Penal Code 6021 are a felony, and a conviction will attract severe legal penalties. If you or your loved one is battling charges for aggravated assault, you will require top-notch legal guidance by your side. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we will guide you through the case and defend yourself to ensure the best outcome.

Overview of California Penal Code 601

PC 601 makes it a crime to threaten or cause injury to a person and then enter their property without permission. The elements of the crime that need to be clear when proving your guilt for this offense include:

  1. You made a credible threat to injure another person seriously. For this offense, a credible threat is that which appears that the maker will carry out and causes the alleged victim to fear for their lives. Causing serious bodily injury involves physical harm that could cause death. Also, a threat is only made when information is passed electronically, verbally, or in writing. Before you are found guilty for aggravated trespass, the prosecutor must prove that you threatened to injure a property owner.
  2. You made a threat to instill fear in a person or their immediate family. The prosecutor must establish your intentions to instill fear on the alleged victim while proving your guilt under Penal Code 601. When determining the presence of reasonable suspicion, the jury considered the exact message you passed to the alleged victim. Also, your relationship with the victim and how you acted while making the threat is crucial. Under this statute, you can be convicted for threatening a person or their immediate family, including the alleged victim’s children, spouse, or parents.
  3. Within thirty days of making a threat, you entered the person’s residence or workplace without permission and intended to accomplish the risks. When establishing your guilt under this statute, the prosecutor must prove your forceful entry into the person you threatened. When showing this element, it should be clear that you knew the property you entered belonged to the specific person.

When proving the aggravated trespass elements, the prosecutor does not need to show that you acted willfully. Also, the law will not prosecute anyone who entered their real property, residence, or workplace. If you are facing charges for aggravated trespass in California, you will require the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.

Legal Penalties for Aggravated Trespass

California Pc 601 is a wobbler. The offense could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor spending on your case’s specific circumstances and criminal history. California law is stringent on repeat offenders, and a second or third conviction is treated as a felony. A misdemeanor conviction for aggravated assault is punishable by:

  • Misdemeanor probation 
  • A jail sentence not exceeding one year
  • $2000 in court fines

A felony conviction, on the other hand, will attract a three-year jail sentence, up to $10,000, and felony probation.

With the guidance of your criminal defense lawyer, you can try to convince the jury to offer you probation as an alternative to jail time. Formal probation is served for three to five years. During the period of probation, you may be required to make regular check-ins with your probation officer. Also, you will need to pay all court fines and avoid involvement in other criminal activities.

Aggravated trespass is a severe offense in California. A conviction for this crime attracts negative consequences for immigrants. Depending on your case’s factors, the crime can gain aggravated felony status, resulting in deportation or being rendered inadmissible.

Possible Defenses against Penal Code 601 of California

If you face criminal charges for aggravated trespass, you can try to beat the charges and put together a defense. A competent criminal defense attorney can help you work towards reducing your charges or getting them to be dismissed. Some common arguments against aggravated trespassing in California include:

  1. Consent from the Owner

One of the elements used to establish your guilt for this offense is the lack of consent to enter a property by the owner. Aggravated trespass involves entering another person’s property to commit a crime. Therefore, proving that you had permission from the property owner gives you a chance to fight the criminal charges.

  1. The Incident Was Accidental

There are instances where your presence on another person’s property could be accidental. Such an incident could occur where you get accused of aggravated trespass in a workplace and lacked the knowledge that the alleged victim worked there. In such a case, you can build a strong accident defense for your case.

  1. You did not Make a Credible Threat.

When you face charges for aggravated trespass, the prosecutor needs to show that you made credible threats towards the alleged victim. In this case, a credible threat will be one that made the victim fear for their safety. If you made a statement that could not cause a reasonable person to worry, you could present it.

  1. You lacked an Intention to Cause Fear.

You must have had an intent to instill fear on another person for you to get convicted for aggravated trespass. You can defend your case by claiming that your statement’s aim was not to cause anxiety to the alleged victim or their family.

  1. You did not Intend to Carry Out the Threat.

You could only be found guilty of aggravated trespass if you entered the victim’s residence, intending to carry out the threat you made. You can defend yourself by claiming that you lacked the intention to carry out the threat when you entered the victim’s residence.

  1. Private Necessity

When you act to protect a specific person from severe bodily injury or death, you can defend yourself from aggravated trespass. The rationale behind using this defense is the preservation of life.

  1. Public Necessity

If you interfered with another person’s property rights because of a public necessity, you could argue public need as a defense. For you to use the defense, the situation that triggered your actions should be an immediate and imperative necessity. Also, you must have been acting in good faith for the public. When something threatens the whole community, you can take the appropriate action to protect the public interest. However, the defense cannot be available if the act is unreasonable under the circumstances.

Expunging Aggravated Assault Criminal Records in California

If you get convicted for aggravated trespass, you are entitled to the expungement of your criminal record. Expunging your records eliminated the negative consequences that accompany the conviction.

You will be allowed to expunge your record after you have completed probation. Successful completion of probation means that you have completed all probation terms such as paying fines and community service. Also, it would help if you had made court appearances and avoided criminal activities.

Sometimes, even when you violate probation, you may still receive an expungement. This is after the court considers your overall performance on probation, the seriousness of your conviction. To receive an expungement of your record, you are required to file a petition with the court requesting to be considered for expungement.

The following steps will be involved when obtaining an expungement under PC 1203.4

  • Your case will be analyzed to determine if you are eligible for the relief
  • Performing research on the relevant law
  • Filing the paperwork within a specified time
  • Attendance to the expungement hearing
  • Offenses Related to Aggravated Assault

Getting convicted for aggravated trespass could be devastating. This is due to the severe consequences that accompany the crime. If you get to relive for your record through an expungement, you will accrue the following benefits:

  1. Potential employers can’t discriminate against you based on the expunged conviction. Most employers may use a criminal record to deny you a job. However, when the document is expunged, you can comfortably answer NO’ when asked about prior convictions.
  2. You can quickly obtain a professional license when you apply for state professional licenses. Your criminal record will be checked. If your felony conviction was expunged, it could not be used to deny you the license.
  3. An expungement helps you avoid immigration consequences. A conviction for aggravated trespass in California could cause you to be deported or be rendered inadmissible. You can prevent these consequences by seeking an expungement of the record.
  4. Expunging your conviction will not be used to disregard your credibility as a witness in court.

Offenses Related to Aggravated Trespass in California

Aggravated trespass is a severe offense that gets charged under Penal Code 601. Several crimes are related to this crime and can be charged in place of or alongside aggravated assault. Some of the crimes related to PC 601 include:


California criminal law prohibits entering or staying in another person’s property without their permission. Simple trespassing is charged under PC 602 of California and has the following elements:

  1. You entered or remained in another person’s property willfully. Before a prosecutor can secure a conviction for trespass, they must prove that you entered in a property that belonged to someone else intentionally. Even when you got into the property with no intent to commit a crime, you can be convicted. Also, failure to move away from a property that does not belong to you could be a way to prove that you are trespassing.
  2. When you entered the property, you had intentions to interfere with the owners’ rights. Specific intent is considered a mental state where you intended to act and aimed at specific results.
  3. Your actions interfered with another person’s property rights. You will not be found guilty of trespass unless the prosecutor can prove that you did actual damage or interfered with the owner’s property rights.

Simple trespassing is an infraction or a misdemeanor in California. When the offense is an infraction, you will face a fine of up to $75 for a first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. Potential penalties for a misdemeanor trespass conviction attracts these penalties:

  • Misdemeanor probation
  • A jail sentence of up to six months
  • Fines that do not exceed $1,000

If you or your loved one is facing trespass charges, you can present these defenses to your case:

  • Claim that you had a right to enter the property. If it is clear that you had legal rights to be in the property, you cannot be convicted for the offense.
  • You had permission from the owner. Lack of consent is one of the criminal elements that a prosecutor must prove before you are convicted. With guidance from a competent attorney, you can establish that the property owner consented to you being there. However, if the owner asked you to leave, but you remained, you cannot use this argument.
  • You did not know that you were not allowed to be in the property. If there was no sign on the property or a notice that you are not permitted to be in the property, you could effectively use it to defend your case.
  • You did not interfere with the owner’s property rights. You are guilty of trespass if your actions interfered with the owners’ rights. You can defend yourself from the case by proving that your actions did not affect the owner in any way.

Simple trespass under Penal Code 602 of California is not as a severe offense as aggravated trespass. Therefore, your criminal defense attorney could help you negotiate your Penal Code 601 charges to be reduced to simple trespass.

CPC 459 – Burglary

Under this statute, a burglary occurs when you enter another person’s residential or business property intending to commit theft. Even when you do not perpetuate the crime, entering the property with the criminal intention can get you convicted. In California, it is common for you to be charged with aggravated trespass, together with burglary. Burglary could either be first or second degree, depending on where you entered.

The elements used to prove burglary in California include:

  1. You entered a building room or locked vehicle. The law defines that you entered a building if some part of your body or object penetrates the structure.
  2. When you entered the property, you intended to commit theft or another felony. You don’t need to execute the intended offense for you to be convicted under PC 459.

The first-degree burglary, which occurs in residential areas, is always charged as a felony and is punishable by:

  • Formal probation. In California, probation is often an alternative to a prison sentence. Formal probation lasts for three to five years. While serving probation, you will be required to adhere to all the terms of probation, including payment of court fines and avoiding other criminal activities.
  • A two, four, or six years prison sentence
  • $10,000 in court fines

Second-degree burglary, on the other hand, is a wobbler. If charged as a felony, you will face the above felony penalties. However, when you are convicted with a misdemeanor under PC 459, you will serve a one-year jail sentence, pay fines amounting to $1,000. Also, you may be subjected to misdemeanor probation. Informal probation is less stringent than felony probation in that there are rest restrictions when you are serving misdemeanor probation.


You commit an offense of stalking when you threaten or harass another person until they fear their lives. Stalking is charged under PC 646.9 and is a severe offense. For you to be found guilty of the crime, the prosecutor must establish that:

  • You repeatedly and willfully followed or harassed someone
  • You acted intending to cause fear to the alleged victim

In California, stalking is often charged as a misdemeanor but can be treated as a felony in extreme circumstances. If the alleged victim had a restraining order against you or a repeat offender, you would face felony charges. A conviction for the misdemeanor will attract a one-year jail sentence and $ 1000 in fines. A felony conviction is punishable by a prison sentence not exceeding five years.

If you threaten or harm another person and enter their property while committing the staling offense, you could be charged with both PC 601 and 646.9. All crimes that are related to aggravated trespass attract severe consequences. Therefore, legal guidance is crucial for you or your loved one facing the charges.

Making Criminal Threats

You commit an offense Under Penal Code 422 of California if you threaten to commit a crime that could result in serious bodily harm or death on another person. Even if you do not carry out the offense, causing another person to fear their lives can be convicted under this statute. PC 422 prohibits producing a written or verbal statement that could create reasonable fear for another person. Before convicting you for making criminal threats, the prosecutor must establish these facts:

  1. You willfully intended to break the law.
  2. You threatened to cause injury or death to another person. You do not need to specify how you will commit the crime. Simple threatening to cause severe injury or death is enough to get you convicted.
  3. You passed the threat orally electronically or through writing. Gestures that are not accompanied by words or reports cannot be used to prove that you made criminal threats.
  4. You had an intention to threaten the alleged victim. The prosecutor is required to prove that you acted with an intent to cause fear for you to be found guilty under PC 422.
  5. The alleged victim sustained reasonable fear after receiving your message. You could not face a conviction for making criminal threats unless the alleged victim was placed in reasonable suspicion after receiving the information.

CPC 422 could be punished as a felony or misdemeanor, making it a wobbler in California. The circumstances through which the offense occurred and your criminal history will significantly affect how you are charged. If you get convicted with the misdemeanor version of criminal threats, you will serve a jail sentence not exceeding one year and pay up to $1,000 in fines.

On the other hand, a felony conviction attracts a three-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in court fines. If you used a firearm when making the threats, you might face an additional jail sentence of one year. Felony criminal threats are a strike under California Three strikes law, elevating your prison sentence to twenty-five years.

If you entered another person’s property without their permission and made them fear for their lives, you can be charged with criminal threats alongside aggravated trespass. Fortunately, there are defenses you can present to help convince the prosecutor to reduce your charges and lessen the penalties:

  • Claim that you did not make a credible threat
  • You lacked the intention to carry out the threat
  • You did not intend to cause fear of the alleged victim.

Find a Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Entering into a property that you know you are not allowed can attract trespass charges. Aggravated trespass occurs when you cause injuries or threaten another person from doing lawful acts while trespassing. Criminal trespassing is a felony offense in California, and getting conviction will result in devastating legal penalties. Fortunately, not all arrests done under penal Code 601 will result in a sentence. There are defenses that your attorney can help you present to escape the harsh penalties that accompany this offense. If you are in Orange County, CA, you will require guidance from an Orange County Criminal lawyer. Our knowledgeable attorneys will provide you with the much needed legal advice and representation for your case. Contact us today at 714-262-4833 and allow us to take control of your case.