California laws have stringent laws related to property laws. You can face misdemeanor or felony charges based on the severity of the offense that you have committed. However, the allegations that one encounters in property crimes depends on the specific type of property offense that you have committed. California laws provide various property crimes depending on their nature. Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm offers credible legal services to anyone accused of committing any of the property crimes in Orange County, CA.
Trespass: Penal Code 602
Under Penal Code 602, it is prohibited to trespass another person's property. There are over thirty activities that are considered as trespassing in California. The most common actions that fall under the California trespassing laws include:
- Entry into someone's property to damage it
- Entering into someone's property to interfere or obstruct the business activities conducted there
- Entry and trying to occupy someone's property without the owner's permit
- Refusing to leave private property when you have been asked to do so
Apart from the above-stated activities, there are other bizarre forms of trespassing that fall under California laws. These activities include:
- Taking soil, stones, or dirt from the property of someone else without permission
- Taking shellfish such as oyster or any other type from someone's property
- Refusing to undergo screening at a courthouse or airport
The definition of trespass is complicated in California and usually covers several aspects. However, certain elements make most activities as trespassing in California. These elements represent the factors that a prosecutor should prove to consider someone as guilty of California trespass. These elements are as follows:
- You entered into someone's property willfully
- You had the specific intent to interfere with someone else property rights, and
- You interfered with the person's property right by either damaging the property, interfering with their business, or any other thing.
Penalties Under Penal Code 602: Trespass
In California, trespass is charged uniquely and can be filed as an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. It is rare to find trespass being convicted as a felony. Let's have a closer look at the penalties, depending on how they have been filed.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Trespass
Most of the trespass cases in California are charged as a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor trespass in California attracts penalties such as:
- Summary or misdemeanor probation
- A maximum of six months in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000.
Please note, refusing to leave a battered woman's shelter after being asked to carry a sentence of a maximum of one year in county jail.
Penalties for Trespass as an Infraction: Penal Code 602.8
Only one simple and common type of trespass is considered an infraction in California. Specifically, if one enters into someone's property willfully but without a permit, and the property had a fence, without any "trespass" signpost, such an offense is considered as an infraction trespass. The signpost should be set up not less than one to three miles from the property to meet the criteria needed in this type of trespassing.
When one gets convicted under Penal Code 602.8 PC, the possible penalties that might apply are a $75 fine for your first offense and $250 fine for a second offense in the same property.
If you commit a third offense in the same property, the prosecutor will charge you with misdemeanor trespass.
Aggravated or Felony Trespass: Penal Code 601
In California, aggravated or felony trespass occurs when you make a credible threat to injure someone to make the person fear for his or her safety or family. After thirty days, you decide to enter into the respective person's property to carry out the threat.
An aggravated felony is a wobbler in California, meaning that one can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the case and your criminal history. When one is accused of a misdemeanor, the possible penalties that apply include a maximum jail service of one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $2000.
If you are charged with a felony for aggravated trespass, you can end up facing 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail. Other than that, you can end up being sentenced to a felony of formal probation.
Expungement of Your Criminal Records in a Trespass Conviction
Your criminal records related to trespass can be erased if you complete your probation. However, the expungement is deniable if you participated in any form of a probation violation or did not consider any of your probation's terms and conditions.
Damaging Phone Lines: Penal Code 591
Under California Penal Code 591, one is guilty of cutting utility lines, cutting phone, or electrical wires. If one takes down, remove, injure, obstruct, or cut lines such as electrical line, cable television, telegraph, or a device that is connecting to such lines. The action should be unlawful and malicious to meet the criteria needed to explain this kind of offense.
One can also be charged for cutting or obstructing telephone or electrical lines if you maliciously make an unauthorized electrical line connection. This does not apply to TV lines, phones, or telegraph lines.
The term malicious explains that you had the intention to do a wrongful action or injure someone else. If your action was not malicious, then you are innocent of these charges.
Penalties for Penal Code 591
In California, damaging phone or cable lines is a wobbler offense. Therefore, one can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. This depends on the nature of the allegations and criminal history.
If charged with a misdemeanor, the possible penalties that might apply are a summary or misdemeanor probation, a maximum of one year service in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
If you are charged with a felony, the possible penalties that apply include felony probation, a maximum fine of $10,000, and 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail under the California realignment program.
Arson: Penal Code 451
Under California Penal Code 451, arson is defined as a crime that a person sets fire on a property, forest land, or structure. For a prosecutor to successfully charge someone under this penal code, he or she must prove that the defendant willfully and maliciously set fire or burned a structure, property, or forest land.
Setting fire or burning explains damaging or destroying something partially or entirely with fire. A simple thing such as charring of wood is enough to provide evidence of fire or burn. Some of the questions that might come up when defining this statue would be the definition of structure and forest land.
Under California laws, a structure can be a power plant, tunnel, bridge, building, or a public tent. A fixture inside a building can be part of the structure if it is an integral part of a building.
Under PC 451, Forest land would mean a grassland, forest, cut-over land, a land covered with brush, and wood.
Penalties for Arson
In California, violating Penal Code 451 is a felony. The penalties in this offense rely on the type of property involved and whether or not someone suffered a burn injury. Therefore, the potential penalties that might apply are:
- 16 months, two year or three years if you committed a malicious arson on a personal property
- 2, 4, or 6 years if you for committing a malicious arson in forest land or structure
- 3,5,8 years if you committed a malicious action in an inhabited property or structure
- 5, 7, or 9 years for arson that led to significant bodily injuries.
Apart from the prison term, other consequences can occur to anyone convicted under California Penal Code 451. For instance, there are negative immigration consequences that might result from such a conviction.
Under the United States Immigration law, arson can lead to deportation and being marked inadmissible if you are a non-citizen. This means that arson is a crime of moral turpitude.
Besides that, your gun rights can also be affected. Therefore, you will not be able to enjoy your gun rights as usual if you are convicted with arson. Since arson is a felony, a convict under this Penal Code will lose his or her gun rights.
Conviction Expungement for Arson
Although arson is a felony crime, a convicted person is entitled to an expungement if he or she completes probation successfully or completes jail term.
One can still get the offense expunged even after violating the probation terms, but this would be considered through the discretion of the judge. An expungement releases a convict from all penalties and disabilities that arise from a conviction. In that case, your gun rights and the possibility of facing immigration consequences are expunged.
Vandalism: Penal Code 594
It is hard to define vandalism in California since it revolves around the three factors that fall under the element of the crime. The prosecutor should prove those elements of the crime to charge someone under Penal Code 594 successfully.
These elements of the crime are as follows:
- That one maliciously destroyed or damaged property by defacing it with graffiti or any other inscribed material
- That one was not the legal owner of the property either solely or through a partnership with someone else
- The cost of the defacement, destruction, or damage was less than $400 for misdemeanor prosecution or $400 or more for a felony conviction.
Penalties for Vandalism in California
The procedure for punishing a vandalism offender is quite complicated. It involves a lot of consideration, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Let's have a look at the penalties that apply in California vandalism.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Vandalism
According to the above-stated statement, if the cost of the damaged property is less than $400, the offense becomes a misdemeanor. If one is convicted for misdemeanor vandalism, the possible penalties that might apply are:
- A maximum of one year service in a county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000 or $5,000 if one has a previous vandalism conviction
- Informal or summary probation
If you are convicted with probation for vandalism, the following conditions might be considered.
- Suspension of your California driver's license for two years. Those without any drivers license might have their eligibility to acquire a driver's license delayed for one to three years
- Community service which might consider personally repairing, cleaning, or replacing the damaged property
- Being given the task to keep the damaged property free form graffiti for a maximum of one year
Penalties for California Felony Vandalism
Under California penal code 594, vandalizing a property worth $400 or more is a felony. Felony vandalism is charged as a wobbler according to the circumstances surrounding the offense and the history of your crimes.
If the cost of the damaged property is worth $400 or more and you get a misdemeanor conviction, the possible penalties that might follow are a maximum of one year service in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000 or $50,000 if the damaged property was valued $10,000 or more. Also, you are at risk of probation with the condition provided for misdemeanor vandalism.
If you are convicted of a felony and vandalizing a property worth $400 or higher, you can either face probation with a maximum of a year in county jail or serve a sentence for 16 months, two years, or three years. Also, you are at risk of a maximum of $10,000 or $50,000 if the damaged property is valued at $10,000. Finally, you can get probation with similar conditions as in misdemeanor vandalism.
Penalties for Graffiti Including Damages Less Than $250: California Penal Code 640,5 and 640.6
Your prosecutor might decide to convict you with a lenient penalty if the kind of vandalism that you are charged with entails defacing property with graffiti, and it would cost $250 to repair such damage.
The charges solely rely on the discretion of the prosecutor, and one might choose to charge you with ordinary misdemeanor vandalism, which falls under Penal Code 594. However, if your charges fall under Penal Code 640.5 or 640.6, the potential penalty depends on whether it is your first or subsequent offense.
For a first conviction, your offense becomes an infraction, and the potential penalties include a fine of up to $1,000 and community service.
For a second conviction, meaning that you have a previous conviction under any California vandalism law and the cost of repairing the damage is less than $250, the offense is considered a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors offense under Penal Code 640. 5 and 640.6 are different from a misdemeanor under Penal Code 594. Therefore, the possible penalties that anyone convicted for second graffiti vandalism includes:
- A maximum of 6 months in a county jail
- A maximum fine of $2,000
- Community service
For a third and subsequent conviction, your offense will be considered as a misdemeanor. The kind of penalties that fall under this conviction includes a maximum of a one-year jail sentence in county jail, community service, and a fine of up to $3,000.
Other Types of Vandalism and their Penalties
Several other Penal Code sections fall under Penal Code 594, and they explain different penalties for different types of vandalism. These penal codes set up punishment for different types of vandalism based on the type of property involved rather than the value of the damage. Here is a breakdown of the other kinds of penalties that result from these types of vandalism.
Penal Code 594.3: Vandalizing Places of Worship
Vandalizing a temple, church, mosque, or other places of worship is a wobbler as provided under Penal Code 594.3. Such an offense is considered a wobbler regardless of the value of the repair needed to handle the damage.
A misdemeanor conviction for an offense under this penal code might subject one to probation, a maximal fine of $1,000, and a maximum of one year in county jail.
A Felony conviction subjects you to imprisonment for 16 months, two years or three years, a maximum fine of $10,000 and probation.
Please note, the kind of probation that one is subjected to carries the same conditions as those provided for misdemeanor vandalism under Penal Code 594. Also, if you committed a vandalism offense and ended up being categorized as a hate crime, and the act ended up scaring someone, this will automatically turn to be a felony sentence.
Penal Code 594.4: Vandalism that Involves Caustic Chemicals
Vandalism using butyric acid or any other form of harmful chemical or substance is a wobbler regardless of the value of the damage. If convicted with a misdemeanor, the offender is subjected to a maximum of six months in county jail.
For a felony conviction, the offender can end up with a sentence of 16 months, two years, or three years. Both convictions subject one to a fine of up to $1,000 to $50,00. This depends on the value of the damage of the property that was vandalized. Also, one might be subjected to probation provided for misdemeanor vandalism under California Penal Code 594.
Penal Code 640.7 and 640.8: Vandalizing On or Close to a Freeway or Highway
Penal Code 640.7 and 640.8 provides the penalties for vandalism that occur on or close to freeways or highways. A successful charge under these sections is considered as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum of six months jail sentence in county jail. Also, an offender risks a maximum of one year for a second vandalism conviction in or near a freeway.
You can also get convicted with a$1,000 fine for highway vandalism. Also, you are at risk of a fine of up to $5,000 for vandalism on or close to a freeway. Finally, you might even be subjected to community service or counseling.
Penal Code 459: Burglary
Under California Penal Code 459, a burglary is an act of entering any type of structure to commit grand or petit larceny or any kind of felony. Please note, the entry does not have to be done through force, violence, or destruction, but should be done to commit any crime.
Burglary can be divided into first-degree and second-degree crimes. First-degree crimes are burglary involving a crime committed in residence, while a second-degree crime involves any other structure such as a store or business.
Please note, burglary is different from shoplifting, which falls under Penal Code 459.5. Shoplifting occurs when a person enters an open business intending to steal merchandise worth $950 or less.
Penalties for Burglary In California
The penalties for burglary in California differ depending on whether the crime was a first or second-degree burglary. In a first-degree burglary, the offender is convicted of a felony. The possible penalty of such an offense includes state imprisonment for 2, 4, or 6 years.
In a second-degree burglary, the offense is considered a wobbler. In a misdemeanor charge, the potential penalty that one can get is a county jail sentence for a maximum of a year. In a felony, the possible charges that one is at risk of getting is 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail.
Other Property Crimes in California
Apart from the property crimes described above, there are other types of property crimes in California. Here is a list of these additional crimes.
- Penal Code 666: Felony petty theft with prior allegations
- Penal Code 466: Possession of burglary tools
- Penal Code 496: Receiving stolen property
- Penal Code 602(m): Commercial trespass
- Penal Code 485: Theft
- Penal Code 484: Petty Theft
- Penal Code 487: Grand Theft
Find an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Regardless of the property crime that you commit, you deserve to get legal justice through a court trial. You cannot win a case presented against you unless you hire a professional criminal defense attorney. Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm has the reputation of offering credible services to people facing any property crime within Orange County, CA. For more information about us, contact us at 714-740-7848 for a free consultation.