CA Penal Code Section 623


Except as otherwise provided in Section 599c, any person who, without the prior written permission of the owner of a cave, intentionally and knowingly does any of the following acts is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both such fine and imprisonment:


Breaks, breaks off, cracks, carves upon, paints, writes or otherwise marks upon or in any manner destroys, mutilates, injures, defaces, mars, or harms any natural material found in any cave.


Disturbs or alters any archaeological evidence of prior occupation in any cave.


Kills, harms, or removes any animal or plant life found in any cave.


Burns any material which produces any smoke or gas which is harmful to any plant or animal found in any cave.


Removes any material found in any cave.


Breaks, forces, tampers with, removes or otherwise disturbs any lock, gate, door, or any other structure or obstruction designed to prevent entrance to any cave, whether or not entrance is gained.


For purposes of this section:


“Cave” means any natural geologically formed void or cavity beneath the surface of the earth, not including any mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other manmade excavation, which is large enough to permit a person to enter.


“Owner” means the person or private or public agency which has the right of possession to the cave.


“Natural material” means any stalactite, stalagmite, helictite, anthodite, gypsum flower or needle, flowstone, drapery, column, tufa dam, clay or mud formation or concretion, crystalline mineral formation, and any wall, ceiling, or mineral protuberance therefrom, whether attached or broken, found in any cave.


“Material” means all or any part of any archaeological, paleontological, biological, or historical item including, but not limited to, any petroglyph, pictograph, basketry, human remains, tool, beads, pottery, projectile point, remains of historical mining activity or any other occupation found in any cave.


The entering or remaining in a cave by itself shall not constitute a violation of this section.
Last Updated

Aug. 19, 2023

§ 623’s source at ca​.gov