Trespass on a Public Street, Commonwealth v. Castillo
Marcelle Castillo, who is African-American, used to park her car on a cul-de-sac in an adjacent wealthy, predominantly white neighborhood and take a walk for about an hour, then get back in her car and drive back to her house. One evening, as she returned to her car, she was confronted by several men who lived in the cul-de-sac. During this encounter, a police car drove by and Castillo received assurances from the officer that she was allowed to park her car on the street while she took her walk. Subsequently, one of the neighbors placed a sign on his front yard warning “do not park here” and after one her of her walks, a police officer issued her with a trespassing notice, forbidding her to trespass upon the lands, dwellings and curtilage of the ten houses on the cul-de-sac. After she made inquiries, both the county and VDOT told her that the road was state maintained. Nonetheless, she stopped parking on the cul-de-sac and avoided walking on the street in front of the houses listed on the trespassing notice. But she did continue to walk on other roads in the neighborhood. On October 13, 2011 Castillo was contacted by the Sherriff’s department informing her that a warrant was issued against her for trespassing. On October 14, she received an email from the County informing her that they had made a mistake and that the cul-de-sac area of the street was not state maintained. She received a similar letter from VDOT on October 17. Still, the area where she was walking – not on the cul-de-sac – appears to be a public street. After discussion with our cooperating attorney, the commonwealth’s attorney agreed to dismiss the case on Feb. 17, 2012.