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Arizona’s Criminal Trespassing Laws Explained

by Aaron M. Black • March 12, 2021

Arizona’s compressed cities and sprawling ranches are protected by criminal trespassing law, which is also often alleged as a lesser included offense in arson, burglary, home invasion and robbery crimes. Even standing alone, a criminal trespassing conviction means a criminal record, time in jail, probation, and significant fines so it is not an inconsequential offense.

Criminal trespassing law is broad ranging from, someone uninvited is on the private property of someone’s home, to criminal damage. The laws are codified in three sections of Arizona’s Revised Statutes for first, second, and third degree offenses.

Criminal Trespassing - Laws & Defense of

Arizona’s criminal trespassing laws

A.R.S. §13-1502 is criminal trespassing in the third degree, the least serious of the three levels. The offender in this range faces a class 3 misdemeanor charge.
To be guilty of this offense the offender must have known it was unlawful to enter or remain unlawfully on real property after law enforcement, the property owner, or someone looking after the property demands the person to leave.

A.R.S §13-1503 is trespassing by a person who knowingly enters and remains on any nonresidential structure or fenced commercial yard. This offense is a class 2 misdemeanor.

A.R.S. §13-1504 forbids a person to enter and remain unlawfully in a residential structure, which is a class 6 felony, a fenced residential yard or while they are looking into the home in a reckless disregard of the inhabitant’s right to privacy, a class 1 misdemeanor.

The law also forbids a person attempting to take or explore for minerals on real property that has a mineral claim, a class 1 misdemeanor.

It is illegal to enter and stay on property belonging to someone else and burning, defacing, mutilating or desecrating a religious symbol or other religious property. This law also applies to critical public service facilities. This is a class 6 felony.

Consequences for criminal trespassing in Phoenix Arizona

As we’ve explored, criminal trespassing can be a misdemeanor or a felony under specific circumstances.

Arizona’s misdemeanor ranges from the least serious – a class six, to the most severe – a class one misdemeanor. Felony charges follow that organization, too.

For misdemeanor convictions, the court orders some jail time; six months for a class one misdemeanor, four months for a class 2, and 30 days for a class 3. In addition, the court can levy fines, order a term of probation and pay restitution to the victim.

Punishments for felony convictions are much tougher. A class 6 felony carries a maximum of two years in state prison. Felony sentences have ranges, mitigated, minimum, presumptive, maximum and aggravated. A term of probation is ordered as well as significant fines and restitution.

A felony conviction has long-term ramifications. Felons cannot have a firearm, cannot vote in elections, cannot serve on jury duty and will have difficulty renting an apartment or getting a job. People who have professional licenses run the risk of losing their chosen careers.

Children and criminal trespassing

Children are curious and can be tempted to go unlawfully onto private property. A construction site is an attractive nuisance with its machinery standing about and they may find things to damage. Children who are charged with criminal trespassing face the same misdemeanors as adults.

To convict children, the prosecution must show they were told verbally or in writing not to go onto the property. Juvenile trespassing is usually a class 1 misdemeanor.
Juveniles who are suspended from school but go onto school property can be charged with trespassing.

Criminal trespassing defenses

Every case has a different fact pattern and that will direct the defense’s options. These are common affirmative defense strategies:

Intent: To be guilty of a criminal trespassing charge you must have intended to enter the property without the owner’s permission. Your defense attorney can argue that you entered the property by accident. To prove that claim, the defense must show that you were not aware you were on private property because there was not a mandatory “no trespassing” sign posted and clearly visible as a warning required by law.

Property owners who have posted a highly visible no trespassing sign have thereby given police the authority to make a trespassing arrest without first contacting the property owner or management company.

Consent of property owner: If you had the property owner’s permission to be on the property as a guest or were there to make a repair, an improvement, or some other legitimate reason, you have a viable consent defense. That defense can be confirmed even if an out-of-state property owner gave you verbal permission during a telephone conversation.

Private necessity: This defense is for those who enter and stay on someone’s property to protect themselves or others. In an emergency situation, such as reacting to a gas leak in a home, it is lawful to go onto the property to alert the home’s occupants and prevent an explosion that would damage the home and other adjacent residents.

Public necessity: This defense allows entering and remaining on private property to protect the public’s safety or health, such as firefighters entering and staying on the property while combating flames or police chasing a criminal suspect who fled onto the property.

Proving necessity defenses
To argue for a necessity defense the defending attorney must show that (1) you reasonably believed that what you did was required to prevent harm; (2) no practical alternative was available to you; (3) you did not cause the threat; (4) the damage you caused was less than it would have been had you not intervened.

Lack of probable cause: The officer did not have a probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to detain you in the first place.

Miranda rights violation: If the arresting officer, at the time of arrest, did not recite your Miranda rights advising you of your Constitutional right to remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself under the Fifth Amendment, and to have a criminal defense attorney represent you during questioning to protect your civil rights under the Sixth Amendment. If you were not Mirandized”, your case can be dismissed.

Confidential legal advice

If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal trespassing, it is important to learn what you will be facing and what your options are by scheduling a confidential case review without any obligation to use Aaron M. Black Law for your defense.

To arrange for your consultation call 480-729-1683 which is available day and night, weekends and holidays or use my online contact form and I will quickly respond unless I am in court.

I have a strong record of aggressively attacking the state’s evidence and conducting my own investigation of the charge looking for errors, omissions, and procedural mistakes. All throughout the case, you will be talking directly to me, never an assistant.

During the pandemic we can meet online using FaceTime and communicate as the case moves forward by telephone, text and email.

I defend criminal trespassing charges in justice, municipal, state and federal courts in Maricopa County and its surrounding counties.


 

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