California Penal Code 409.5(c) PC

PC 409.5(c) – Unauthorized Entry into an Emergency Area

PC 409.5(c) - Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Emergency Area

Unauthorized Entry into a Closed Emergency Area – Table of Contents

PC 409.5 – Overview

In some emergency situations, you may find law enforcement officers or other emergency personnel such as firefighters or paramedics closing off certain areas to the public, so they can perform their tasks without any distractions or intrusions. The general public can, in most cases, prove to be obstructions, cause delays, or even make the situation worse during emergencies. This is why, in some cases, it is necessary to close up some areas to prevent any acts that may cause any accidents or even death. This is why it is considered illegal for an ordinary civilian to enter a closed emergency area under the California Penal Code Section 409.5(c) PC.

This statute makes it illegal for an unauthorized person to enter an area that has been closed up due to a calamity that can be a healthy or safety hazard by a public official.

In this case, a public official refers to:

  • Officers of the Department of California Highway Patrol
  • The Police Department
  • Marshal’s Office or Sheriff’s Office
  • Any Officer or Employee of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection designated a Peace Officer
  • Any Officer or Employee of the Department of Parks and Recreation designated a Peace Officer
  • Any Officer or Employee of the Department of Fish and Game designated a Peace Officer
  • Publicly Employed Full-time Lifeguard or Marine Safety Officer

Thus, anyone violating the California Penal Code 409.5(c) is bound to face some very serious charges. However, there are some exceptions to this statute. Any authorized personnel of any news service, newspaper, radio, television station, or network are allowed entry into a closed emergency area. Therefore they cannot be prosecuted under Penal Code 409.5(c) PC.

PC 409.5 – Sentencing

Unauthorized entry into a closed emergency area in violation of California Penal Code 409.5(c) PC is regarded as a misdemeanor offense. If convicted the defendant can be sentenced to:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • The defendant can also be awarded summary probation instead of jail time.

Crimes Related to Unauthorized Entry Into A Closed Emergency Area

  • Sightseeing At The Scene Of An Emergency – California Penal Code Section 402(a) PC
  • Interfering With A Lifeguard During An Emergency – California Penal Code Section 402(b) PC
  • Refusal To Disperse – California Penal Code Section 409 PC and California Penal Code Section 416 PC
  • Trespassing – California Penal Code Section 602 PC

PC 409.5 – Prosecution

Understanding what the prosecutor will use against you is a great tactic to ensure you build a solid defense that will get your charges dismissed. For a prosecutor to get the defendant convicted under California Penal Code Section 409.5(c) PC. They have to irrevocably prove that:
The area experienced a disaster such as a flood, storm, fire, earthquake, explosion, accident, or another calamity that created a menace to public health or public safety.
A public official, such as policemen, California highway patrol, or the sheriff’s office, closed up the dangerous area to all unauthorized individuals using ropes, markers, or guards.
The closed-off emergency area was not to be entered by unauthorized personnel.
The defendant willfully and knowingly entered the closed area and willfully remained within the area, even after being asked to leave.

Therefore, for the defendant to be prosecuted under this statute. The prosecutor needs to prove that the defendant acted on their own accord, and they were well aware the area was closed off to anyone who was not authorized.

PC 409.5 – Defenses

If you are facing charges under Penal Code 409.5(c) PC, there are a lot of strategies that a criminal defense attorney can use to argue the case. Here are some examples:

Entered The Closed Emergency Area Unknowingly

A defendant must knowingly and willfully enter a closed emergency area for them to be penalized under Penal Code 409.5(c) PC. Thus, if the defendant accidentally wandered into the closed emergency area and can prove this. They can avoid getting convicted under this statute.

Is A Member of The Press

If the defendant works for the media or press, they may be exempted from this statute. The PC 409.5 statute establishes that authorized members of the press or media should not be banned from closed emergency areas. Thus if you fall under this category you should not be charged under Penal Code 409.5(c) PC.

Unauthorized Entry into a Closed Emergency Area – Hire Us

Facing charges under Penal Code 409.5(c) PC can seem very scary. Nonetheless, the Esfandi law firm is here to help. This firm has the right experience and skillset to carefully go through your case and figure out the best course of action.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

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