Can I be in trouble if I entered someone’s home with one of the occupant’s permission?

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Can I be in trouble if I entered someone’s home with one of the occupant’s permission?

I am 16 years old. A friend of mine named Jacob went on vacation for 2 weeks. He said we can throw a party at his house as long as we clean up. He gave us his house key and alarm passcode and my friends and I have photo proof of that. We threw 1 party and cleaned up and nothing was broken nor stolen. Then we threw another and, an inexpensive and easily replaceable bowl, was broken. We were going to clean up but we got lazy and procrastinated. A friend of my friend’s father checked the house out and saw trash around the house. Most of the bottles and cans (mostly alcoholic) were in trashbags but some were not. There were some food crumbs on floor and maybe some cans. The father is mad and wants to take us to court. What are the outcomes?

Asked on January 3, 2013 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you had permission to use the house, you would not seem to have committed trespassing, so you should not face criminal liability for that--though you may have trouble if your friend, either to avoid trouble with his parents or under pressure from them, now denies you had permission. If that happens, it may be difficult to establish that your entry and use of the property was with permission, though the fact that you had a key and alarm passcodes, presumably given to you, will be strong evidence in your favor.

If you are, as a I presume, underage and/or had underage drinkers at the party, you could face criminal charges relating to underage consumption of alcohal.

You could be sued by the family for any costs they can reasonably establish you caused them in incur, such as if they had to hire a cleaning service; any repairs or repainting allegedly required due to the party; the cost of the broken bowl; professional rug cleaning, if necessary; and the cost of any of the family's food or drinks you consummed.


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