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San Francisco

The Life Of A Trespassing Violation

You'll have noticed, by now, the 8.5-by-11-inch yellow notices posted in every merchant's window in the Upper Haight. These are posted to allow the San Francisco Police Department to enforce no-trespassing laws for businesses even when they're closed—say, for example, if someone's sleeping in a shop's doorway. 

Effectively, this does exactly the same thing that calling the cops about squatters on your front stoop would do.

The Park Station, based on the reports released weekly in the station's newsletter from Captain Gregory Corrales, issues dozens of these citations every week.

Last week, we found the carbon copy of a trespass violation ticket floating around a doorway in the Upper Haight. Intrigued, we took a closer look. The name the reporting officer took down for citation was Sharon Tate (a little grim Manson in-joke, we suppose).

This raises the question of what, exactly, happens when a trespassing citation is issued. What can the SFPD do to enforce "quality of life" (trespassing, sit/lie, etc.) violations against people who might not have a driver's license, or who refuse to give their real name?

Typically—or ideally—according to Officer Dennis at Park Station, the person issued the citation is ordered to appear in court at a particular date, at which point they're "charged and issued a fine for a certain amount, or whatever they can pay," as you would be for a traffic ticket. The citation goes on the person's record and the matter is closed.

And if they fail to appear in court, a warrant goes out for their arrest. Ditto the record.

And if the name given is false? Officer Dennis told us that if the issuing officer has reason to believe the name is false, the offender is also charged with delaying police work, a misdemeanor charge.

But for all the Sharon Tates out there, there's limited info on just how many people charged with trespassing actually appear in court, or what happens to those who to live outside the world of legal names and documented identification. 

Have you seen anyone being issued a trespassing citation, been issued one yourself or have insights into what exactly happens afterwards? Let us know in the comments. 
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