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Ramifications of a Burglary Conviction in Phoenix

by Aaron M. Black • February 18, 2022

Arizona’s burglary laws include several scenarios spanning three different burglary charges. Each of these crimes are felonies and that means prison if convicted.

Burglary is defined in Arizona law as entering and unlawfully remaining in a structure or on property intending to commit a theft or any other felony while inside. A conviction can result even if nothing was stolen during the break-in. All that is required is having the intent to steal.

Burglar stealing a TV

Burglary charges are divided into three degrees.

First degree is charged if the defendant knowingly had an explosive, a deadly weapon, or a dangerous instrument such as a hammer when entering a residence. This is a Class 2 felony. If the person so equipped enters a fenced commercial or residential yard, the action becomes a third degree offense.

Second degree burglary is entering or remaining in a residence intending to commit a theft or a felony. This degree is a Class 3 felony.

Third degree burglary is entering or remaining unlawfully with intent to steal or commit felony in a fenced residential or commercial yard. Unlawfully entering a motor vehicle to commit a theft or a felony is a Class 4 felony.

Simply possessing the common tools used for burglaries, such as crowbars, slim jims, lock picks, master keys, torches or hammers, is a Class 6 felony.

Burglar carrying a crowbar

Burglary conviction punishments

A first degree burglary charge, a Class 2 felony, is punished by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years. A Class 3 felony carries a maximum prison sentence of up to seven years. A Class 4 felony means a maximum of three years in prison. The maximum time in prison for a Class 6 felony is 1.5 years. In addition to prison the judge can levy fines of up to $150,000 for each felony.

Arizona’s sentencing structure has five guidelines, mitigated, minimum, presumptive, maximum, and aggravated in non-dangerous offenses. A judge in sentencing has discretion in determining the length of a sentence and considers any previous criminal offenses and other factors.

Arizona burglary law explained

Under Arizona Revised Statute §13-1701, a structure is broadly defined as any building, object, vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or a place with sides and a floor intended for lodging, business, transportation, recreation, or storage. This includes a homeless person’s tent on a downtown sidewalk.

An occupied structure is defined as one or more people who are likely to be present inside or to be in danger should a nearby explosion or fire happen.

Property is defined as anything that has value and owned publicly or privately and includes government buildings, fenced commercial yards and private property.

Those who participate in the spike of grab-and-go commercial thefts do not meet the entering and remaining unlawfully element of burglary because commercial business doors are open to the public. But if the business is closed, unlawful entry and remaining does occur.

Law enforcement’s response

The greater Phoenix area is experiencing burglaries of homes and vehicles even in broad daylight. With crime increasing, Phoenix police are targeting the high crime corridor west of I-17 including the 27th Avenue, Indian School, Northern Avenue, Bell Road and the property of the defunct Metrocenter Mall property, which is being redeveloped into a residential and mixed use area.

Neighborhood Scout.com reports that 7,406 burglaries have occurred in Phoenix but a time frame was not provided.

Law Enforcement arresting burglar after home burglary

Life changing results of a felony conviction

A felony conviction is life changing and it will remain public record for 99 years for anyone to see, making it difficult to get a job and rent a place to live. Beyond serving time in prison and owing stiff fines, upon release you will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm, vote in any election, hold any public office, enlist in the military, go to college, or keep a professional license. And you will be placed on probation which comes with restrictions imposed by the court. If probation is violated, you will go back to prison.

Defenses for burglary charges

The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore the defense’s job is to present an argument or evidence to establish the doubt in the minds of jurors or a judge.

To prove a burglary charge, the state must prove each of the three elements that comprise the crime. These are (1) unauthorized breaking and entering (2) in an occupied structure or any building (3) with the intent to commit a crime once inside.

The common defenses are that the resident or owner of the home, business or vehicle gave you permission to enter and once inside you did not intend to commit a crime.

Arron M. Black Law for your burglary defense

I believe desperate times can induce good people to commit a burglary. This crime may also result from retrieving or attempting to get back personal property after a relationship ends badly. If you or a loved one is under an investigation for burglary or have been arrested, it is in your best interest to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney – such as Aaron M. Black – at your side as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. As we have seen, a burglary conviction has serious consequences for your freedom and future.

My goal is always to get the charges dismissed by conducting an independent investigation of the state’s evidence against you. Authorities are not interested in developing mitigating evidence or information that helps your case.

I will scrutinize the police report looking for inaccuracies, omissions, procedural errors, and the history of the officers involved in the case for any current or previous misconduct. I will interview any witnesses and develop information to help your defense by presenting mitigating evidence.

If a dismissal of the charge is not possible, I will work aggressively to have the charge reduced by negotiating a plea agreement with the prosecution, if you chose to enter a plea.

In using me for your defense, you will receive personalized service and will not be handed off to an assistant as some big law firms sometimes do. You will always be talking directly to me at every stage of the case.

Begin your defense by calling 480-729-1683 at any time day or night, weekends or holidays, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court or at trial. Or use my online contact form.

About the Author

Aaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes and white-collar crime.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

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In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to inform clients and potential clients I am still available for consultations. I am always available by phone, text and/or email. We can also use Facetime for social distancing. The criminal justice system is not stopping due to COVID-19.

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