Criminal Trespass In Arizona
A criminal trespass occurs when a person knowingly enters or remains on another’s property without permission. You risk criminal charges for ignoring a ‘no trespass sign’ on a commercial or residential property and illegally entering or remaining on the property. Arizona seeks to protect the interest of property owners by prosecuting illegal trespassing.
Arizona law classifies criminal trespass into first, second, and third degree with the first degree being the most serious offense. Your criminal charge will depend on the type of property you entered and your behavior while there, including ignoring the owner’s request to leave.
Criminal Trespass in the First Degree
Arizona defines criminal trespass in the first degree under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) 13-1504. According to the law, a person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree if they knowingly;
- Enters or remains in or on a residential structure unlawfully
- Enters or remains in or on a fenced residential yard unlawfully
- Enters a residential yard and unlawfully looks into the residential structure, recklessly disregarding the owner’s right to privacy
- Enters or remains unlawfully on real property that has a mineral claim and intends to hold, work, or take minerals on the claim or lease
- Enters or remains unlawfully on another’s property and burns, defaces, or mutilates a religious article or symbol without the owner’s permission
- Enters or remains in or on a critical public service facility unlawfully
Depending on your specific first-degree charge, you are guilty of either a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 6 felony. The potential penalties for a class 6 felony include up to 18 months in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. For a class 1 misdemeanor, the penalties are a prison sentence of up to 6 months and a fine not exceeding $2,500.
Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree
According to A.R.S. 13-1503, a person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree if they knowingly;
- Enters or remains in or on a nonresidential structure or in any fenced commercial yard unlawfully
A criminal trespass in the second degree is a class 2 misdemeanor, and the potential penalties include up to 4 months in prison and up to $750 in fines.
Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree
According to A.R.S. 13-1502, a person is guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree if they knowingly;
- Enter or remain unlawfully on any real property after a law enforcement officer, the owner, or any other person with lawful control over the property has asked them to leave.
- Enters or remains unlawfully on the right-of-way for tracks, storage, switching yards, or rolling stock of a railroad company.
A criminal trespass in the third degree is a class 3 misdemeanor. The potential penalties include up to 30 days in prison and not more than $500 in fines.
Potential Defenses to Criminal Trespass Charges in Arizona
Besides the risk of imprisonment and hefty fines, you risk a criminal record for illegal trespassing. However, a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight false accusations or put up a good defense against criminal trespass charges. Some of the potential defenses that criminal defense lawyers use include;
- There was no intent to trespass – you didn’t mean to trespass on the property and only did so by accident.
- You had the owner’s permission to be on the property
- The person who asked you to leave is not the owner or had no lawful control over the property
- Law enforcement errors – the police violated your constitutional rights while collecting evidence or arresting you
Contact an Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal trespass is a serious crime, and you risk severe penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines upon conviction. Depending on circumstances like prior convictions, you risk years in prison. However, what constitutes criminal trespassing is not always clear hence the possibility of false accusations. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate complex legal issues.
If you are in Arizona, and you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, contact our skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyers at Dodge & Vega P.L.C. We are committed to guiding you through the legal ordeal while fighting to have the court reduce or dismiss the criminal charges. Contact us today for solid legal representation and to learn more about our services.