What are the California Criminal “Trespass” & “Trespassing” Laws?

California Penal Code 602 PC prohibits criminal trespassing.  Criminal Trespassing is entering someone’s property without their authorization and with the intent to offend the owner. PC 602 covers over 30 acts that are considered criminal trespassing.  Some of these actions you may have never considered as trespassing; but they are included and well defined in PC 602.  A criminal trespass can take place in many different situations; some that are common and some that are rarely known by the general public.  For example, the State of California has a number of trespass laws that may apply to agricultural settings.  And did you know that taking oysters from someone’s land is criminal trespassing?

This little known statue can be found  in the California PC 602 (g) Entering upon any lands owned by any other person whereon oysters or other shellfish are planted or growing; or injuring, gathering, or carrying away any oysters or other shellfish planted, growing, or on any of those lands, whether covered by water or not, without the license of the owner or legal occupant; or damaging, destroying, or removing, or causing to be removed, damaged, or destroyed, any stakes, marks, fences, or signs intended to designate the boundaries and limits of any of those lands. 

The complete Penal Code for Criminal Trespassing can be read at http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/602.html 

To summarize this lengthy code, trespassing can be defined as taking place when you enter someone else’s property without permission or have a right to do so. It is an illegal intrusion that interferes with the rights of another person or property. Oysters aside, the more common actions that constitute criminal trespassing include:

  • entering someone else’s property with the intent to damage that property
  • entering someone else’s property with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the business activities conducted thereon
  • entering and “occupying” another’s property without permission
  • refusing to leave private property after you’ve been asked to do so

What are the Penalties for Criminal Trespassing?

Criminal Trespassing under California Penal Code Section 602 is a criminal offense and can be filed as an infraction, felony or misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor can mean up to 6 months in the County Jail and a maximum $1,000 fine

Aggravated Trespassing (done under threat or force) can be either filed under a misdemeanor or felony: a misdemeanor can mean up to 1 year in the County Jail and a maximum $2,000 fine and a felony sentencing range falls between sixteen (16) months and three (3) years in state prison. 


If you are facing criminal trespassing charges for Penal Code 602 call our office today at 619-330-5881.  Mr. Elliott N. Kanter has been serving the San Diego area for over 30 years as a Criminal Defense Attorney. He superior knowledge of California Law and the judicial system will be your best defense.   He is ready to meet with you for a free consultation and review.

This article is for education purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship.