The trespassing laws in California cover many situations ranging from the ordinary to highly unusual, some of which are difficult to figure out.
Trespassing often means walking into any area that has posted a “No Trespassing” sign. However, trespassing also includes an individual being on vacant property or in a vacant building whether it’s posted or not. claiming that you didn’t realize you were trespassing isn’t a defense.
Trespassing under California Penal Code Section 602, is defined as the willful entering of another person’s property with the specific intent to interfere with the person’s property rights. “Willful” is defined as deliberately or on purpose. “Specific intent” means the person intended not only to do something but to do something that will cause consequences to the act. An example is loitering in a person’s business with the consequence of interfering with the business or the location of the business.
Even if another person gives you the right to enter their land, property, or building, the minute you commit a wrong act after entering it becomes trespassing. For example, a mail person has the right and privilege to walk on the sidewalk of a private home, but he’s not entitled to enter the house. This is to prevent breaches of the peace in order to protect the quiet possession of real property.
A store owner may consider that you’re trespassing if you enter their business, loiter for awhile, and then leave without purchasing anything. If a homeless person takes up residence in an abandoned house or building for days or weeks without permission, local governments usually consider this trespassing.
Any unlawful entry onto somebody else’s property is trespassing, even if no harm has been done.
To prove trespassing, the plaintiff just needs to show the defendant intended to do something wrong as a result of the trespass. The person trespassing can’t use the excuse that they didn’t believe they had done something wrong or that they didn’t understand what they did was wrong.