In California, trespassing is usually classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, the penal code has also included another level of trespassing called aggravated trespassing. According to California Penal Code 601 PC, if someone makes threats towards a person and then subsequently trespasses on that person’s property, they are guilty of having committed aggravated trespassing.
In order for the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused is guilty, the following key burdens must be met. First, the accused must have made a credible threat to another person, with the aim of causing serious bodily injury. Second, the threat was intentionally made so that the person would fear for their safety and/or the safety of their family. Third, the accused must have entered the residence or workplace of the person they had threatened. This must have been done without a lawful purpose and/or with the deliberate intention to fulfill the previous threat(s). Such trespassing must occur within 30 days of the threats being initially made.
While trespassing is a misdemeanor offense, aggravated trespassing can also be charged as a felony. However, it is a wobbler offense, and as such it is left to the discretion of the prosecution to charge accordingly. If a misdemeanor conviction is sought and proven, the defendant faces up to a year in jail and probation. However, if the defendant is found guilty of felony aggravated trespassing, they face up to 3 years in jail and probation. In both cases, high fines will also be demanded of the defendants. If a defense is needed against a false accusation, experienced criminal attorneys have previously argued that the threat was not intended to cause serious bodily injury or was even credible to begin with. Other defenses will be utilized given the specific elements of each case.