Third Degree Trespassing in Arizona: A.R.S. 13-1502

Criminal trespass involves knowingly entering another person’s property or land without permission. Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-1502 is defined as criminal trespassing in the third degree.

A person is committing criminal trespassing in the third degree if they knowingly enter or remain on property unlawfully after a request to leave by the property’s owner, law enforcement, or another person who has lawful control over the property. A person also commits criminal trespass in the third degree if they knowingly enter or remain unlawfully on the right-of-way for storage, tracks, rolling stocks, or switching yards of a railroad company.

Trespassing is considered a serious crime in Arizona and can carry stiff penalties. It is important to understand what qualifies as trespassing, the penalties of this crime, and how to defend yourself against a charge of criminal trespassing.

What Is Trespassing in Arizona?

Third-degree criminal trespassing is a common offense that occurs when a person does not comply when asked to leave a property by the property’s owner or another person with lawful control over the property.

To be charged with trespassing under ARS 13-1502, the alleged offender must have been reasonably requested to leave the property by a person with authority, such as a police officer.

The crime of third-degree trespassing can also occur when a person violates a “No Trespassing” or “Do Not Enter” sign. While trespassing in the third degree is the most commonly charged offense, trespassing can also occur in the second and first degree.

What are the Degrees of Trespassing?

Trespassing on residential or commercial property in Arizona is considered a crime and can result in a third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree conviction. Arizona recognizes three primary types of unlawful trespassing crimes as described below:

1. Third Degree Trespassing

Criminal trespassing in the third degree is the least severe degree of trespassing in Arizona. This crime occurs when a person enters a real property and stays there even after being asked to leave by the property’s owner, a law enforcement officer, or another person with lawful control over the property. Under third-degree trespassing, it is also illegal to enter or remain on the right-of-way for storage, switching yards, tracks, or rolling stock for a railroad company.

2. Second Degree Trespassing

Second-degree trespassing in Arizona is defined under ARS §13-1503 as a crime that occurs when a person enters or remains in a fenced yard of a non-residential or commercial building. What qualifies as a non-residential structure is quite broad but generally includes structures like retail establishments, factories, and office buildings. A non-residential structure can also include cars and Salvation Army collection boxes.

3. First Degree Trespassing

First-degree criminal trespassing defined under ARS §13-1504 occurs when a person knowingly enters or unlawfully remains in a fenced residential yard or a residential structure without permission. A person could be charged with first-degree trespassing if they enter a residential yard without authorization or looks into a residential structure due to the resident’s right to privacy. Defacing, mutilating, burning, or otherwise desecrating any religious symbol or property is also covered.

Penalties for Trespassing in Arizona

The penalties for trespassing in Arizona can differ based on the specifics of the crime and the degree of criminal trespassing the alleged offender is charged with by a judge. In Arizona, a person could face the following penalties if convicted of trespassing:

  • Trespassing in the Third Degree – Criminal trespassing in the third degree is considered a class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.
  • Trespassing in the Second Degree – As trespassing in the second degree is more serious than trespassing in the third degree, the penalties are often stricter. If convicted, you could face up to $750 in fines and four months in jail.
  • Trespassing in the First Degree – Trespassing in the first degree is the most severe type of trespassing and can result in a class 1 misdemeanor or class 6 felony, depending on the unique nature of the crime. If convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor, you could face up to $2,500 in fines and six months in jail. With a class 6 felony offense, the penalty is up to $150,000 in fines and one year in jail.

Defenses for Criminal Trespassing

When faced with a criminal trespassing conviction in Arizona, it is important for alleged offenders to develop a strong defense. Partnering with an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to fight back against false trespassing charges.

One of the most common defenses in Arizona trespassing cases is to say that there was no intent to trespass. A criminal defense attorney could argue that their client did not know that they were intruding on the plaintiff’s property or that the property that they were on was privately owned. Even if the property owner had a “No Trespassing” sign, the signage could be positioned in a way that was not seen by the defendant, especially in cases where there are multiple entrances to the property or large amounts of land.

Another common defense for trespassing in Arizona is for the defendant to claim that they had permission to be on the property. Lack of communication or misunderstandings could result in someone calling the police about trespassing. For example, if a friend told you that you could come to their home but you arrived early before they arrived, another resident of the home could contact the police to say that you are a trespasser.

There are also other defenses that a criminal defense attorney may recommend in Arizona trespassing cases. The defendant could say that the person who asked them to leave was not the owner of the property or that errors were made by law enforcement that violated their constitutional rights.

Speak with a JacksonWhite Attorney

Criminal trespassing in Arizona can carry serious penalties. If you have been charged with criminal trespassing, it is important to speak with a reputable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the team at JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law today to schedule a consultation.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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