Criminal Trespass in Arizona

Some people believe that the lack of clear property boundary designation makes it impossible to commit criminal trespass. This isn’t the case. Criminal trespass in Arizona is classified in three different categories. Each one has a specific sanction that is based on the severity of the violation.

Criminal Trespass Regulations in Arizona

There are three statutes relating to criminal trespass in Arizona – A.R.S. 13-1502, 13-1503 and 13-1504.

Trespass in the state is defined as knowingly entering somebody else’s property and remaining there unlawfully, even after being asked to leave. Criminal trespass also refers to being on a property without getting the owner’s permission or being in violation of a sign that warns against trespassing.

The details surrounding the incident will determine how it is going to be prosecuted. Most often, criminal trespass will result in misdemeanor charges. On occasions, however, it’s possible for the offense to be classified as a Class 6 felony.

The Difference between First, Second and Third Degree Criminal Trespass

Several conditions have to be met for a person to be found guilty of criminal trespass in the first, second or third degree.

Criminal trespassing in the first degree is described in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1504. For this offense to be committed, several conditions will have to be met:

  • A person should either enter a residence or remain on it unlawfully
  • A person enters a fenced residential yard unlawfully
  • First degree criminal trespass also occurs whenever a person enters the yard to look into a house/apartment, thus violating the right to privacy of the inhabitants
  • A person defaces, burns or manipulates a religious symbol on somebody else’s property
  • A person enters a public service facility without having the legal permission to be there

This is the most serious criminal trespass offense. It is classified as a Class 6 felony (when a person remains on the residential structure unlawfully, in the case of the burning of religious symbols and whenever a person enters a public service facility). In all other instances, the person will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

For a felony, the sanctions could reach up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to 150,000 dollars. Those charged with a misdemeanor could face six months in jail and a fine of up to 2,500 dollars.

Criminal trespass in the second degree occurs whenever someone:

  • Enters and remains on non-residential property unlawfully
  • Enters and remains on a commercial fenced yard unlawfully

This is a Class 2 misdemeanor that carries sanctions of up to four months in jail and a fine of up to 750 dollars.

People will be found guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree whenever they:

  • Unlawfully enter and remain on a property after they’ve been asked to leave by the owner
  • Unlawfully enter and remain on a property after they’ve been asked to leave by a policeman or another law enforcement professional
  • Were given a warning about entering the property and still chose to do it
  • Enter and remain unlawfully on storage facilities, switching yards, etc. of a railroad company

criminal trespass in arizonaCriminal trespass in the third degree is also a misdemeanor (Class 3). The maximum sanctions for this criminal offense are up to 30 days in jail and a fine of 500 dollars.

Anyone charged with criminal trespass should call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Several defense scenarios could be effective under such circumstances. Proving the lack of intent to trespass is the first one. The lawyer will have to prove that the person trespassed by accident and wasn’t set on committing criminal trespass. A lawyer may also attempt to prove that the trespasser actually had permission to be on the property.