Penal Code 373a PC prohibits a person from maintaining a public nuisance on his or her property after having received an abatement notice to remove it. People face misdemeanor charges for each day they allow the public nuisance to exist following the notice. The penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,200 in fines.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
PC 373a Each person who maintains, permits, or allows a public nuisance to exist upon his or her property or premises, and each person occupying or leasing the property or premises of another who maintains, permits, or allows a public nuisance to exist on the property, after reasonable notice in writing from a health officer, district attorney, city attorney, or city prosecutor to remove, discontinue, or abate the public nuisance has been served upon the person, is guilty of a misdemeanor. The existence of the public nuisance for each and every day after the service of the notice is a separate and distinct offense, and it is the duty of the district attorney, or the city attorney or city prosecutor of any city the charter of which imposes the duty upon the city attorney or city prosecutor to prosecute state misdemeanors, to continuously prosecute all persons guilty of violating this section until the nuisance is abated and removed.
California Penal Code 373a PC makes it a misdemeanor crime for people to let a public nuisance exist on their property after they received an official abatement notice ordering them to remove the nuisance. The abatement notice must be in writing, and it must be from either a health officer, district attorney, city attorney, or city prosecutor.1
Once this abatement notice has been served upon the property owner or occupier, he/she must eliminate the public nuisance right away. Each day the property owners/occupiers allow the nuisance to exist after the abatement notice is a separate misdemeanor charge, carrying up to $1,200 in fines and/or up to six months in jail.2
A public nuisance is anything that injures someone’s health, offends someone, or prevents the free use of property, and interferes with a community’s enjoyment of life or property.3 Potential examples include:
- Playing extremely loud music during nighttime hours, keeping neighbors from being able to sleep;
- Keeping trash on the front lawn for several days, causing the neighborhood to smell; or
- Conducting controlled burns on one’s property, ruining the air quality in the neighborhood.
Note that maintaining a public nuisance is itself a misdemeanor offense even if the property owner/occupier never receives an abatement notice. The misdemeanor penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,200 in fines.4
- California Penal Code 373a PC – Maintaining or permitting public nuisance after abatement notice. See also Dapper v. Municipal Court of San Diego Judicial Dist. (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 1969), 276 Cal. App. 2d 816, 81 Cal. Rptr. 340 and Board of Supervisors v. Simpson (Cal., 1951), 36 Cal. 2d 671, 227 P.2d 14.
- Same. Penal Code 1202.51.
- Penal Code 370.
- Penal Code 372. Penal Code 1202.51.