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  1. #1

    Default Can You Prosecute Your Neighbor for Coming Into Your Back Yard

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: CA

    A new neighbor moved in about 2 months ago and he goes for the gang member look (with matching tattoos). He's hispanic and all our other neighbors are asians. About 2 months ago, when he had just moved in, he trespassed on my property: I was in the bedroom facing our backyard, while my wife and a friend were in the living room facing the front yard. He screeched his car onto a halt inside my driveway, then run into my backyard. My wife (not recognizing him) shouted a warning as she thought a gang member was targeting us. As he run into our backyard I got ready to defend ourselves but then I recognized him as our new neighbor. He was very aggressive and kept asking where his pitbull was. I had not seen his pitbull and there is no place for it to hide in our small backyard. I told him several times that he couldn't stay in my backyard but he was refusing to leave. He kept aggressively asking about his dog, ignoring my requests to leave my property. Eventually he realized his dog was not there and he left. He never apologized or expressed regret for his action. I came out the front door and told him not to trespass again.

    About a month later I asked him to keep the music down but he got angry and called 911 claiming I was harassing him. The deputy tried to talk to the both of us to improve our interactions but my neighbor is still being a nuisance in many ways. I did tell the deputy about the trespass and whether I could press charges. The deputy asked the neighbor about it, and my neighbor admitted to it to the deputy, saying he was looking for his pitbull. The deputy told me I should let it go because 1. filing charges would deteriorate things more, and 2. it was too late. However, the statute of limitation for trespassing in CA is 3 years.

    My question is whether it is possible for me to press charges, or whether the incident is too small for the legal system to care about. I read, for example, that you can ask the court to consider charges in some cases where law enforcement doesn't, but I'm a bit confused about that because I thought generally a prosecutor needs to file charges. So should I approach the Sheriff station about it, or the court, or a prosecutor, or should I just let it go, or should I keep it as one of the complaint if I file a civil lawsuit for nuisance. There are other things he does that qualify as nuisance, but I think trespassing is not a nuisance, right? I read in CA it can be an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony depending on its severity. I imagine in this case it'd be an infraction, though refusing to immediately leave might push it towards a misdemeanor, but I might be wrong about that.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    1,227

    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    You can file a trespassing report with your local police department and they will forward it to the city or district attorney for review.

    However, the fact that you waited two months to pursue this issue will make it clear to both the police and the proescutor's office that you are not truly seeking justice, but instead are trying to misuse the justice system as a tool to settle a urinating contest wuth your neighbor. No one is going to take your complaint seriously and most likely, the prosecutor's office will exercise their discretionary decision making authority tp decline prosecution.

    Even had you called the police at the time, all they would have done is asked your neighbor to leave and only arrested him if he had refused their direction.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    thank you for your opinion, which is useful to me, though for me it is not about settling a contest, but about the fact that if somebody never faces consequences for their actions, their behavior might deteriorate even more. I initially did not report it because I was trying to be considerate (and then because the deputy dissuaded me), but it's apparent to me now that my understanding behavior is not working in eliciting a corresponding good will from my neighbor. However, it makes sense that the prosecutor would interpret my complaint in the way you did

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    The statute of limitations to prosecute trespassing is three years. The state is highly unlikely to prosecute a case of trespassing if you did not file a complaint immediately upon the event occurring. The sol is actually to protect a person from being subjected to being prosecuted beyond a time the state deems reasonable due to the fact memories fade, witnesses move or die, and evidence to defend oneself is harder to find. It isn’t for the purpose you wish to use it for.

    So, if I had to put odds on whether the state would prosecute, I would give you about a million to one against it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Quote Quoting jk
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    The statute of limitations to prosecute trespassing is three years. The state is highly unlikely to prosecute a case of trespassing if you did not file a complaint immediately upon the event occurring. The sol is actually to protect a person from being subjected to being prosecuted beyond a time the state deems reasonable due to the fact memories fade, witnesses move or die, and evidence to defend oneself is harder to find. It isn’t for the purpose you wish to use it for.

    So, if I had to put odds on whether the state would prosecute, I would give you about a million to one against it.
    thank you, hearing from all of you saves me the trouble of wasting my time filling forms trying to make it happen

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Just so you are clear, trespassing a minor misdemeanor offense and the statute of limitations is one year, not three years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Yes, the statute of limitations on trespassing is one year. However, as a low grade misdemeanor it is almost certainly NOT going to be filed or prosecuted. And after 2 months, the urgency will have been lost and this will make the odds of criminal prosecution even less likely.

    If it should happen again, you can call the Sheriff's Department and demand a private person's (i.e. "citizen's") arrest. At that point, he would probably be issued a citation and you would have to go to court *IF* the DA would choose to file. Keep in mind that today in CA we are not prosecuting most theft and drug cases, so prosecuting a trespassing caper between two neighbors is not likely to see any court time.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    prosecuting a trespassing caper between two neighbors is not likely to see any court time
    I'm not seeing a trespass statute in the CA Penal Code (other than posted industrial property).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    I'm not seeing a trespass statute in the CA Penal Code (other than posted industrial property).
    602 (m) PC

    602 (o) PC

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Neighbor in My Backyard

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    I'm not seeing a trespass statute in the CA Penal Code (other than posted industrial property).
    Assuming a fenced in property, PC 602(m) or 602(o).

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/f...sectionNum=602.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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