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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    2

    Default Railroad Trespassing in California

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: California

    There is a railroad near my house that has operated on and off for decades. It has currently not been operated the last 3 years because of safety issues that need to be fixed and no money to fix them. This area is popular with hikers and mountain bikers because of the scenery. Despite no trains operating the last 3 years, railroad police continue to cite "trespassers".

    There are a few "No trespassing" signs in the area that cite 4 penal codes: 555, 602L, 369i & 587b. This is a brief definition of each and why I don't believe it pertains to hikers.
    555 - Pertains to entering Posted Property. Posted Property is defined in section 554.1. Because the railroad is longer than one linear mile, to consider the area Posted, they are required to have signs at an interval not less than 600 feet along exterior boundaries, at each corner, and at each entrance. <<The railroad is not even remotely signed enough to be considered Posted, so this section does not pertain>> http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/555.html
    602L - Entering land with signs forbidden trespassing at least 3 per mile along exterior boundaries and refusing to leave immediately if requested. <<There are no signs along exterior boundaries, but I would leave if told to do so>> http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/602.html
    369i - Persons entering railroad property and whose entry, presence, or conduct would interfere with, interrupt, or hinder the safe and efficient operation of any locomotive, railway car, or train is guilty of a misdemeanor. <<No trains running for 3 years, so nothing to hinder>> http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/369i.html
    587b - Unauthorized persons entering into or climbing on a train. <<I won't be touching any of their equipment>>

    Am I missing something, or does it seem that hiking in the area would be OK? If told to leave, and you do so, you should not be guilty of trespassing or any other crime.

    Dave

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    Bottom line-the railroad right of way is private property. Depending on the cop you run into, you may not get a warning or an opportunity to leave. Railroad rights of way can be very dangerous places even when trains are absent. Having worked for a railroad, I can't tell you how many people I've nearly seen maimed or killed who "thought the railroad was abandoned". If the railroad police are enforcing the law, there's a reason they are doing that.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
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    1,197

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    Quote Quoting JulianDave
    View Post
    369i - Persons entering railroad property and whose entry, presence, or conduct would interfere with, interrupt, or hinder the safe and efficient operation of any locomotive, railway car, or train is guilty of a misdemeanor. <<No trains running for 3 years, so nothing to hinder>> http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/369i.html
    Take a closer look at 369i. It does not say "entry, presence, or conduct that interferes with..." It says "would interfere with..." That is a big difference. Your presence on the right-of-way "would interfere" with any railroad operation, should any occur. Just because you have not seen a train use those tracks for 3 years does not mean that they are not going to be used again 10 minutes from now. You say they are not currently operational due to track safety issues. That does not mean that they are never going to send a locomotive or railway car down those tracks on an inspection tour, a grinder car to resurface the tracks, or convert it to use for light rail vehicles (the track gauge is the same). Since you do not manage the railway company that owns the right-of-way, you really cannot say if or when those tracks will be used again. So, no, hiking in the area would not be "ok."
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    8,651

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    Further, any use that would further degrade the rails, trackbed, signals, etc.. "would interfere" even if there were no trains immediately present.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    2

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    Tough crowd. Ok, I see your point. However, with a million dollars of work that has to be done to continue to run freight + rockfalls covering the tracks here and there, wouldn't the railroad have to show that they were actually using the area at the time to get you with 369i?

    You are correct that I don't run the railroad and don't really know what they are doing, but with so much expensive work that needs to be done in this economy and lack of maintenance the last few years, they are not running trains any time soon. While technically one is taking a chance that they are not running anything, if they are not at the time you are there, I'm not sure 369i could be used against you.

    Quote Quoting AZDeputyClerk
    View Post
    If the railroad police are enforcing the law, there's a reason they are doing that.
    My point is I believe they are over zealous. The website for the RR says they are not required by law to post signs, which is clearly referring to 369i. This seems to be the only code section that needs to be interpreted.

    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    12,407

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    If you have an accident on their property, you could try to sue them and would then be claiming the opposite.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    No. Simple presence on the property is the only grounds needed. Tough enforcement is their way of managing risk. If you do not work for the railroad, you have ZERO legal right to enter the right of way AT ANY TIME!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Railroad Trespassing in California

    Sounds like you are talking about the Carrizo Gorge. How many bikers and hikers do you know hat have gotten cited recently there? What happened to them? Were they just asked to leave, or were they fined or even detained, and arrested? Frank

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