When is trespassing and damage not criminal?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by birdie_poo, Mar 1, 2005.

  1. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    With all the rain we have been having, there is bound to be some runoff. As it happens, we live at the topof a hill. There are prople who built an apartment complex directly below us, and partially, on our easement.

    The apartments did not have gutters on the roof. Our yard has a minimal sloop, but go figure, with the law of phsysics, and all, water still runs down hill. The woman who rents the apartment closest to uur yard started complaining that 'our water' was getting on her porch. She actually yelled at me while tons of water poured over her head from off the roof, directly onto her porch.

    We diverted water from the 10' section of our yard that insected with hers. We did nothing about the 40+' of the neighbors yard that finishes up along her fenceline. Water still was getting on her porch...as if we had something to do with it!

    After a screaming match, I called the owner of the complex and told her we were no longer dealing with the tenat and until she put up gutters along the roof, we weren't going to do anything about the water on her porch. It was the owners problem, not ours.

    I guess the owner gave the renter permission to hire some of the mgrants that stand in front of the grocerie store to ine our mutual fence with sand bags. My husband gave her permission to allow this, however, gaver explicit temrs that no one was to come any further on our property without our permission.

    We get home from work, yesterday, and discover, not only was the fence lined with sandbags, but the entire 15' area we have between that fence and the first emu pen was completely dug up. The renter had the migrants pull up all the vegetation, line out pen fence with plywood, then pack it in with the vegetation, sandbags, mud they dug up from our yard, and carpet remenants and trash. Needless to say we were furious when we saw this.

    We called the sherrif to press tresspassing charges, and the deputy that came out said it was a civil matter. Since when is property distruction and tresspassing civil and not criminal????????? The DA's office can sue someone who owns a crowing rooster, here, but we have to press civil charges against someone who builds a wall on our property???
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Aww, to heck with the law! Go hire your own migrant workers to come out and tear out your neighbors sod and re-lay it in your destroyed area.
     

  3. momofmany

    momofmany Dayenu farms

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    well we had someone steal our car and get it impounded for us and were told it was a civil suit. We gave someone our car under the impression it was going straight to the shop. He drove it around town and then abandoned it...but that was officially 'theft' the impound fees were 300 dollars....
    Ahhhhh gotta love the law of the land :)
     
  4. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Trespass laws vary from state to state, but what about vandalism? You might be able to file a complaint based on malicious mischief. Check the laws for where you live. I would also call my insurance company - you might be able to make a claim and then they would sue the landlord, or they might have other advise for you.
     
  5. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    In California, insurance companies anre notorious from dropping homeowners for making claims for as little as this, to as big as plumbing ruptures.

    What I have been thinking about is trying to find out who the apartment complex is insured by and submitting the claim to them. Why risk losing my insurance,when they are the ones causing all the grief. She needs to get rid of that tenant, but is too damn cheap to make any necessary repairs, and too passive to talk to the tenant about all the problems she is causing. I'm going to bypass the sherrif's office and go straight to the DA. I don't accept that this isn't criminal. It was intentional.
     
  6. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    i have the same problem, my runoff floods my neighbors basement, the dum dums built it in a bad spot.

    I offered to dig the ditch if they bought the drainpipe.
    they didnt buy it so I used scrap pipe, and I keep my runoff channels clear so it bypasses their basement door.

    argue all you like, some battles are easier of you shut up and dig it yourself.
     
  7. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    We have. We put sandbags around her porch. We gave her flats of groundcover to replace the groundcover that was ripped up when the owner took out the fence and put in a new one. Absolutely none of the problem was with our yard, the woman is just paranoid because we have animals and we are trying to poisen her with the runoff.

    She would have had proper draingage if there were gutters on the roof, and the water was blocked by the other tenant when he baracaded his side of the fence so her water runoff wouldn't fo onto his porch. This all created a lake effect.

    My house has been there forever. It was my great grandfather that parceld the hill off. The apartments have only been there for 20 years, and this is the first time in history we have ever had a problem like this. only 10 feet of our yard intersects, while another 40+ is our other neighbors. How is is that all the water is only coming from our property? It isn't. This is just one of the governement sponges who happens to rent from a woman who wants everyone to fix her property for her. She had the audacity to get her sandbags fromthe fire ravaged areas of the counth where free sandbags were offered to prevent flodding. How cheap is that? She's stealing sandbags from people who rightfully need them!
     
  8. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree it is criminal, that's why I suggested you check into malicious mischief in your jurisdiction. The problem with criminal tresspass is it only applies to entering a building in most places, so it is not the law you want. Malicious mischief is very specific, it means the deliberate damage of someone's property.
    Here's a link to the relevant section of the California Code
    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cacodes/pen/594-625c.html
     
  9. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the code link. I've sent an email to the local sheriff's department asking them to explain this to me (how it's civil, not criminal). Now that I have the link, I'll go through it and see if it can't answer some more questions.

    I'm afraid that since these people know we work in the day, and know how to access our property, that they will be back and take some of our animals. We've already been ripped off several times by migrant passers-by, when we left our garage open. Heck, they even walk right into your yard and take fruit off the trees. What is to stop them, now from coming and grabbing some of our animals?

    What is to stop this renter from poisening our animals?
     
  10. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ............Ultimately , you're going to have to put things back ...to your satisfaction.....on your property atleast , SO I would Fully document Her destruction , on Your property with a Video cam , and be about getting it corrected and file either a civil damage suit or a suit for damages in Small Claims ct . In Texas , small claims ct. is for issues up to 5,000 , I think. Guess it depends on what it costs to you to fix what she messed up . fordy.. :eek:
     
  11. reluctantpatriot

    reluctantpatriot I am good without god.

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    I would be one to talk to the tenant and explain that if anything else happens to your property or animals or personal possessions, you will hold her personally responsible as she has made a habit of willful distruction, herself or through her authorized proxies (the migrant workers).

    I would also probably, as might be my nature after having someone royally hack me off, explain that what happened to your property can also happen to hers, and it can be much, much worse. Accidents frequently happen....

    However, being polite and civil and following the law as much as possible would be advised, however, if your life is threatened, I think the gloves should come off.
     
  12. RMShepp

    RMShepp Active Member

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    The way tresspass laws work in many places is that first it's a civil matter, because you have to prove that they are entering on your property. A court has to find, based on a survey, testomony etc. that tresspass has taken place. Once that has been determined, then you can (sometimes) go the other route. I know it sounds silly and convoluted, but that's often the way it is.
     
  13. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would send a certified letter to the landlord and to the tenant detailing the damages and making demand for reparation. Personally I think even if they were willing to return everything to pre-vandalism condition I would probably still make demand for payment to have everything fixed that way you have more control. If you have an attorney, have him/her send the letter. Nothing like a letter from an attorney to get someone's attention. Since the police say its a civil matter approach it that way. Do a small claims action...take lots of pictures for evidence and have estimates on amount of damage (amount your property value decreased) and written repair estimates when you go to court. Also, regarding the drainage problem, if you were there first then they are the ones who changed the situation so you should have no liability on that. A lot of people ignore small claims actions and/or come to court unprepared in which case you could get a judgment without much trouble.
     
  14. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I think Ann called it just right.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  15. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    "What is to stop them, now from coming and grabbing some of our animals?

    What is to stop this renter from poisening our animals?"

    A surveilance camera set to record everything going on around your animals, and a letter telling that tenant in no uncertain terms that if anything happens to those animals she is directly responsible for their total replacement cost and loss of the potential income from those animals.

    People who don't own livestock are often shocked when they learn how valuable a 3 year old chicken is, let alone a goat or horse.

    For that matter, I'd probably put a camera on the back fence to record any comings and goings back there. If you could arrange to be home at unexpected times or have a friend pop by, that also would keep them guessing what your hours are.
     
  16. Orville

    Orville Well-Known Member

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    Don't settle for the first deputy's judgement. Go up the chain of command and let the Sheriff's Office know you're not satisfied. Trespass laws are quite specific, and vary greatly by state. Check to see what is required, such as verbal notification, signs, etc, in order to charge a person criminally for trespassing in your area. Property damage laws, however, are generally derived from common law and are quite standard. It seems to me, from your description, that an offense was committed when your vegetation, "yard", was disturbed. Furthermore, if the carpet and other trash was imported onto your property, that would constitute littering. Of course, if the area is not maintained as a yard, the Sheriff may exercise discretion and choose not to pursue the matter.
     
  17. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    We documented everything with a video camera, yesterday. From the tall grass on one side of that plot, to where everything was pulled up, the mud wall, with the carpet remnants, everything. While my daughter was videoing, the woman kept calling to her, but my daughter ignored her. When the younger one was out there, she yelled, "doesn't it look nice?" to her, and my daughter just put her headphones on and acted like she didn't hear her at all.

    This woman has started calling animal control on us, too. She made a complaint that we haven't been feeding or watering our animals. We work, so the officer looked over the other neighbor's fence, and saw this this was untrue. She even talked with our other neighbor, and he told her that he was positive, this was a retribution complaint from the woman below us. He's lived next to us longer than anyone else, and has never had any problems with us or our animals, there is never anything that bothers him, no smells, flies, or other bothersome pests. He even suggested they start fining people who make such inflamatory complaints.

    We are taking everything to the county and asking them to come out and remeasure all the property lines. There has been a rumor since before I got the house, that that apartment complex was built too far onto ours and that other neighboir's easement. If the county zonig can verify that, we will logde a complaint with the county to have them remove the building or anything else that is on our easement. Incidentally, we have a big gate at the end out four property to make it easier to load and unload the larger animals. When the owner tore down their chianlink and vegetation, and put up a wooden fence, they completely blocked any access we had to that gate...I think that will go into the complaint, as well.

    The reason the owner of the apartment is trying to cater to this woman, is because she is a Section 6 tenant, guaranteed rent paid by the government every month. She's a sure thing, and doesn't want to loose her, and have to get rent risk tenants that will replace her.
     
  18. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In Calif. Section 8 tenants automatically lose their voucher if they prove to be a problem, as well as the landowner if they refuse to rectify a problem. It also falls on the land lord to make any repairs in the first place, ie.. putting up gutters to solve the initial flooding of the patio. So I would make sure that the complaint is also made to the housing authority, or at least a copy of it with names, addresses etc. of the property owner and tenant. You can find the address and # for them in the phone book. In order to get a county official to come out and resurvey the parcel your looking at some mega bucks. County officials actually don't like to do it because then it falls on them if their initial survey, and following permits are documented wrong. If you do manage to get past their reasons for not coming out, they in turn will try to turn the blame over to the title company that insured the problem property, in this case the apartment building. They may also try to use the grandfather clause to wipe the whole situation under the rug, depending on how long the building, and fences have been there. So, in a nutshell your looking at a long and expensive battle.

    IMO I would continue to document everything, including any corrospondence or paperwork between you, the tenant, property owner, and law enforcement. Including county officials, and DA. Also, if it's possible try to record her screaching at your kids when they are out there.... then take it to your own attorney. Usually when all of those involved or made aware of a problem, including insurence companies see that you have proof of your claim and your serious they fall over themselves to make you happy. In most cases it's just a matter of a letter from your attorney that does the trick. I don't know enough about the law to determine what you could threaten to sue for, or what you could charge, but a good attorney will know exactly how to word it. After all the problems that CA has had from the fires, rains, etc... believe me nobody wants a lawsuit. Especially the insurence companies.

    Edited to add.... In CA. actual harm to animals and livestock is considered a felony. So, I would put up security cameras that cover my livestock if I were you. Just in case this crazy woman does get bold enough to try to hurt them. JMHO

    Good luck
     
  19. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Heh, who says revenge is not sweet?!
     
  20. birdie_poo

    birdie_poo Well-Known Member

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    In addition to the video we took, my husband took photos of the wall, again, yesterday evening, then started tearing the wall down. The woman was on her back porche and started yelling and screaming at him, that he wasn't allowed to do that and she was going to call the sheriff on him. He said, she was more than welcome to do that, smilled really big at her, and continued to tear it down.

    She started getting really irate and threatened to keep calling animal control on us, and was going to have us arrested. It's time for a restraining order, I think. At least, if anything more happens to our property or animals, she will be suspect #1.