The U.S. Constitution sets out certain protected rights for U.S. citizens, including rights related to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. However, there are certain limitations on these rights, especially when businesses are involved. These actions are covered by California Penal Code Section 602.1: Interfering or Obstructing a Public Business Establishment.
Individuals can face criminal charges depending on how they assemble around a business.Understanding the limits of your legally protected rights can help you determine if you are interfering or obstructing a public business establishment. The Simmrin Law Group can help you go over the definition and penalties associated with PC 602.1.
Defining PC 602.1 in Los Angeles
U.S. citizens are entitled to assemble together and to speak their minds freely. However, PC 602.1 sets some limits on assemblies in public. This law states that you may be charged with interfering or obstructing a public business establishment if you obstruct or intimidate business people or obstruct or intimidate customers
Blocking doors or directly approaching either customers or employees may be considered interfering with a public business establishment in Los Angeles. Individuals may also be charged under PC 602.1 if they refuse to leave a business after being asked by:
- The business owner
- An agent of the business owner
- A peace officer
Individuals can only be charged with interfering or obstructing a public business if they cause trouble with lawful business transactions in establishments that are open to public traffic. Additionally, an individual must act intentionally in order to be convicted under PC 602.1.
What Must the Prosecution Prove to Convict You Under PC 602.1?
As with all crimes, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. To convict a defendant of a crime under penal code 602.1, the prosecutor must prove three elements:
- They must be able to show that the defendant intentionally interfered with the operations of a public business establishment.
- They must show that this interference took the form of obstructing or intimidating customers or employees of the establishment.
- They must prove that the defendant refused to leave the premises of the public business establishment after receiving a request to do so by the business owner, their proxy, or a police officer.
Charges Related to PC 602.1 in Los Angeles
Individuals can face several other criminal charges that are similar to PC 602.1. Depending on your circumstances, you could also find yourself charged with:
- California Penal Code Section 408: Unlawful Assembly
- California Penal Code Section 602: Trespassing
- California Penal Code Section 601: Aggravated Trespassing
Trespassing is considered a property crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Individuals accused of interfering with a business may be charged with trespassing in addition to interfering or obstructing a public business establishment.
Penalties for Interfering or Obstructing a Public Business Establishment
Individuals can face a number of harsh legal repercussions if they are convicted under PC 602.1. Interfering or obstructing a public business establishment is treated as a misdemeanor by the court system and can lead to penalties including up to 90 days of jail time and fines of up to $400.
These penalties can be challenging to deal with for many people. You can get help building a defense against charges of interfering or obstructing a public business establishment by contacting a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer right away.
PC 602.1 Charges and Legal Defenses
Individuals do not just have to accept charges under PC 602.1. There are several defenses that can be used if you face charges for interfering or obstructing a public business establishment, such as:
- You were never asked to leave.
- You were staging a legal protest.
- You did not intend to interfere.
You Were Never Asked to Leave
A business owner, their agent, or a peace officer must ask you to leave before you can be charged under PC 602.1. If you did not refuse a request to leave a business, you should not be convicted of interfering or obstructing a public business establishment. Your protest does not become unlawful until you refuse to leave after a request to do so has been made.
You Were Staging a Legal Protest
The Constitution allows citizens of the U.S. to protest publicly and peacefully. As long as protesters do not block entrances or exits to a building or directly approach or intimidate customers or employees, they should not be convicted under PC 602.1. Note also that this charge does not apply to individuals who are taking part in lawful labor union actions.
You Did Not Intend to Interfere
An important violation of PC 602.1 that must be established in order to convict you of a crime is that you intended to interfere with the operations of a business. If you were peacefully protesting and your actions inadvertently interfered with a customer or employee, you have not committed a crime.
Exercise Your First Amendment Rights
Peaceful protest is an important legal right of all United States citizens. Knowing your rights and how far they extend is critical to protecting yourself. Don’t avoid voicing your opinion because you fear the repercussions.
Instead, educate yourself and protest freely with the knowledge of which actions are within your rights and which actions cross the line.
Get Professional Advice About PC 602.1 Charges
Individuals in California have the right to gather together and speak their minds. Sometimes, these gatherings may violate California Penal Code Section 602.1: Interfering or Obstructing a Public Business Establishment. The Simmrin Law Group can help you handle violations of PC 602.1.