Last week, Divergent actress and activist Shailene Woodley was arrested for criminal trespassing while peacefully protesting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. This was confirmed by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and also posted on the actresses’ Instagram feed.
Woodley had tried to film and live-stream her incident on Facebook, which has been viewed by over two million viewers on social media. At one point, an unidentified officer could be seen telling Woodley, “We can’t talk right here, but you’re going to be placed under arrest for criminal trespassing.” The actress claims that even though she was “trespassing” like every other protestor, she was the only one being arrested because she is “well known.” The Morton County Sheriff’s Department told Us that Woodley, however, was among 27 people arrested “for the same infraction” at the protest on Monday, October 10, 2016. There were reportedly 125-150 people protesting, and Woodley was arrested at about 12 pm.
The contentious Dakota Access Pipeline has faced hundreds of protesters, a Native American camp-in, and legal action. A federal judge on Sunday rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a permanent injunction to block the planned pipeline, which disturbs the tribe’s burial grounds and tribal lands. The 1,170-mile, $3.7 million pipeline would be responsible for transporting 470,000 barrels of oil a day.
Criminal Trespass in California
The crime of criminal trespass is codified in CA Penal Code § 602. Criminal trespass is generally defined as entering or remaining on someone else’s property without permission or right to do so. The statute sets out dozens of situations in which you may face a criminal trespass charge.
Forms of criminal trespass include:
- Unlawfully entering property with intent to interfere with a business (See § 602(k));
- Entering farm areas with animals (See § 602(h));
- Showing up at an ex-partner’s workplace after threatening him or her;
- Entering closed and restricted land (See § 602(o));
- Refusing to pay and leave a motel See § 602(s));
Prosecution of a criminal trespass means that beyond a reasonable doubt, a prosecutor has proved you willfully entered or occupied someone else’s property without the consent of the property owner, with the specific intent to interfere with a business or property. You must have interfered with one’s property rights.
It does not matter if you were exercising your First amendment rights in protesting. You will still face the charge if your actions interfered with a business or obstructed the property. Under state law, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 base fine. Continue reading