To help protect property owners from the threat of intruders, state law makes it illegal to trespass. Typically, someone commits this crime by entering someone’s property illegally after ignoring a “No Trespassing” or “Do Not Enter” sign. However, you can still get arrested for trespassing, even if you don’t purposely disobey a sign.
You may also receive a trespassing charge if you stay unlawfully on someone’s property after they have asked you to leave. The crime of criminal trespass is split into three categories. We’ll cover these three types of trespassing, followed by penalties for the crime, and what to do if you’ve been charged with this offense.
Trespassing Laws in Mesa
Criminal trespass can occur in the third degree (least serious), second degree, and first degree (most severe). Let’s look at each of these categories below:
Third-degree criminal trespass happens when someone violates a “no trespassing” sign or unlawfully remains on a railroad company’s property or train tracks. It can also occur if someone is requested (in a reasonable way) to leave by the person with lawful control over a property and fails to comply.
Second-degree trespassing refers to unlawfully entering or remaining on a fenced commercial yard or non-residential structure.
First-degree trespassing occurs when someone enters or unlawfully stays in a residential structure or looks into a residential structure from a fenced yard, disregarding the right of privacy of the inhabitants. Trespassing in the first degree can also happen when someone enters a property intending to take, hold, or look for minerals without a valid claim that authorizes it.
Entering or unlawfully remaining on a facility for critical public services or staying on someone else’s property intending to deface or burn a religious symbol, also qualify as first-degree trespassing.
Penalties for Trespassing in Mesa
One element that all three categories of trespassing have in common is that they require someone to unlawfully remain on or enter into another person’s property. Let’s look at the penalties for each of these crimes:
Third-Degree Trespassing Penalties
Third-degree criminal trespassing is the least severe version of trespassing as a class 3 misdemeanor offense. This crime may come with consequences of 30 days (or less) in jail and a $500 fine.
Second-Degree Trespassing Penalties
Slightly more severe than third-degree trespassing, second-degree trespassing is a class 2 misdemeanor offense. If you commit this crime, you may have to pay up to $750 in fines and go to prison for up to 4 months.
First-Degree Trespassing Penalties
The most severe form of criminal trespass, first-degree trespassing is a class 1 misdemeanor crime (or a class 6 felony, in some cases). It may come with a fine up to $2,500 and a maximum of 6 months in prison.
Criminal Trespassing Defenses in Mesa
To receive a conviction for trespassing, you must have intentionally entered someone’s property unlawfully. A Mesa trespass lawyer could show that you didn’t mean to trespass and did so accidentally. If, for example, there was no conspicuously placed sign on the property, your lawyer may be able to prove that you entered the property without intending to trespass.
In other cases, you may be accused of trespassing when you were, in fact, invited there by the owner of the property or otherwise given permission to enter. In that case, the charge would have been due to a misunderstanding and your lawyer could potentially get it reduced or cleared for you.
If you’ve been accused of trespassing, it’s important to take action to protect your interests. A criminal offense on your record could hurt your chances of finding work or a place to live in the future. Even if you had no bad intentions, you could end up with fines or jailtime without an experienced legal professional supporting you.
JacksonWhite Law in Mesa, Arizona
JacksonWhite Law has been serving clients in the Mesa area since 1983. We offer a full range of legal assistance and have plenty of experience navigating cases just like yours with great success. As one of the biggest firms in the East Valley, we work to provide advanced, insightful legal solutions to families, businesses, and individuals throughout the state of Arizona.
JacksonWhite Mesa Office
Our Mesa office is on the northwest corner of W. Pepper and N. Center Street. You may park on Pepper or in the parking garage nearby.
The Mesa city court is located on the northwest corner of Pomeroy Street and 1st Avenue. You’ll find a public parking garage behind the building, which you can access from Pomeroy or Main Street.
From fines, to probation and jail time, being in legal trouble is no laughing matter. It could harm your opportunities in life and even make it harder to find a place to live. Speak with one of our skilled lawyers today to get answers to your questions and to protect your future.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.