White Glove Service. Excellent Results. Strong Reputation.

Read Our Reviews

653b PC Loitering at a School or Public Place Where Children Congregate

June 26, 2021 California Penal Code

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:

  1. Loitering and remaining at any school or public place at or near which children customarily congregate, OR reentering such a place within 72 hours after being asked to leave by a designated official; 
  2. You had no lawful business for being on those premises; and
  3. Your intention was to commit a crime at that place if the opportunity arose.

The term “designated official” means any of the following:

  • The school principal (officially known as the chief administrative official of the school) or any individual acting in the role the chief administrative official in his/her absence;
  • Any member of the school district security patrol authorized in writing by the chief administrative official to perform this duty;
  • Law enforcement officials, including police officers or sheriffs or deputy sheriffs; or
  • Any  California Highway Patrol officer.

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. 

We have local criminal law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby



Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.

~ David Bruce

Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.

~ Rowlin Garcia

Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.

~ Francis Anim

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We provide superior service, excellent results, at a level superior to other criminal defense law firms. Regardless of where your case is, nationwide, we can help you.

Get In Touch

Schedule Your Consultation

Los Angeles

555 W 5th St 35th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions

Call Us