Criminal trespass occurs when a person enters or remains on another individual’s property without consent. The property could be land, a building, vehicle or plane. Essentially the trespasser does not have the permission to be there. The State of California has specified what constitutes criminal trespass and the punishments following a conviction.

Is Criminal Trespass Defined the Same Way in California?

Yes. In California, criminal trespass is defined as entering the property without the owner’s consent.

What Types of Acts Constitute Criminal Trespass in California?

Some examples of criminal trespass in California include:

  • Entering into restricted or closed land
  • Entering another person’s property with the intent to interfere with a business
  • Refusing to leave a hotel or motel
  • Refusing to pay for a stay at a hotel or motel
  • Digging on city property
  • Entering farm land where animals reside
  • Entering areas where oysters are grown
  • Chopping wood and carrying it away

What Do Prosecutors Need To Prove to Convict Me of Trespass?

Prosecutors have to prove the defendant: 

  • Willfully occupied, entered, or remained on the property;
  • Trespassed with the specific intent to interfere with the landowner’s property rights; AND
  • Interfered with the landowner’s property rights

What is the Punishment for Trespassing in California?

In California, criminal trespass can be charged as an infraction, a misdemeanor, or (very rarely) a felony. The majority of criminal trespass instances are charged as misdemeanors, which is punished with up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Are There Any Defenses I Can Use to Fight a Criminal Trespass Charge?

Yes there are. Common trespass defenses include:

  • The defendant had permission to be on the property
  • There was no intent to trespass
  • The defendant wasn’t interfering with a person’s property rights or business conducted

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

Yes, it’s in your best interest to talk to a California criminal lawyer about how to fight this trespass charge.