The law in the California penal code that makes it a crime to loiter at any school or any public place where children normally congregate is California Penal Code 653b. This law covers a playgrounds and public pools also. Note that it is only a crime if you did not have any lawful purpose for being at that location and you intended to commit a crime there if the opportunity arose.
“Loitering at a school” Defined
Loitering at a school or public place under PC 653b is legally defined as follows:
The term “designated official” means any of the following:
Those last two elements of the legal definition of loitering at a school are the critical factors. You cannot be found guilty of this offense if you had a lawful reason to be on the premises and/or had no intention of committing any crime.
Penalties Connected to Penal Code 653b
The crime of loitering at a school or public place where children congregate is a California misdemeanor.
Possible penalties include up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties are more punitive if you are required to register as a sex offender under California’s sex offender registration law. In such cases, the potential penalties are:
First conviction: up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Second conviction: at least 10 days and up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Third or subsequent conviction, at least 90 days and up to 6 months in county jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
The law in statute 653b PC also outlines harsher penalties for defendants who are required to register with the police due to a prior conviction for Penal Code 186.22 PC California’s criminal street gang law or any other gang-related conviction.
There are some defenses against charges of loitering at a school
If the District Attorney cannot demonstrate that you had the intent to commit a crime at the location in question if the opportunity arose, a skillful criminal defense attorney may be able to get PC 653b charges reduced to a less serious offense, such as disturbing the peace. The charge could even be dismissed altogether.
Give us a call at Spodek Law Group
For answers to your questions about the details of Penal Code 653b PC loitering at a school or other place where children congregate, or to speak confidentially with one of our California criminal defense attorneys about your case, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Spodek Law Group.
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