Trespassing is a crime in Arizona that can lead to serious penalties, including expensive fines and a jail or prison sentence. Under Arizona law, there are two types of trespassing: criminal and civil. If you or a loved one has recently been charged with trespassing in Arizona, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away.
What Is the Definition of Criminal Trespassing?
A trespasser is defined as someone who knowingly enters or remains unlawfully on another person’s property without permission or legal authorization to do so. Trespassing can include entering private property, hopping a fence, entering a building or structure, or remaining on the property after being asked by the owner to leave.
The Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) list three degrees of criminal trespassing:
- A.R.S. 13-1502: criminal trespass in the third degree. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave has been made by the property owner, a law enforcement officer or anyone with lawful control over the property, or if the property had a notice posted that prohibited entry. This crime is a class 3 misdemeanor.
- A.R.S. 13-1503: criminal trespass in the second degree. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in or on any nonresidential (commercial) structure or inside a fenced commercial yard. This crime is a class 2 misdemeanor.
- A.R.S. 13-1504: criminal trespass in the first degree. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a residential structure, fenced residential yard, property that is subject to a valid mineral claim with intent to hold or take the claim, a critical public service facility, or entering the property of another person and causing certain types of damage. This crime ranges from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 5 felony.
It is also first-degree trespassing to enter any residential yard and infringe upon the privacy of the inhabitants (also referred to as voyeurism or a “peeping Tom”). If the trespasser is under the age of 18, he or she could be charged with juvenile trespassing. This is typically a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.
What Is Civil Trespassing?
Civil trespassing does not refer to a different type of trespassing but rather a separate type of case brought against the trespasser. Under Arizona law, the owner of the property where a suspect trespassed could file a civil cause of action against the trespasser for any damage caused to the property. If the trespasser cut a chain-link fence to enter the property or committed vandalism while unlawfully on the premises, for example, a civil claim could be filed against the trespasser to require him or her to pay for property repairs.
What Are the Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in Arizona?
The potential penalties for a trespassing conviction in Arizona depend on the degree of the crime. Criminal trespassing in the third degree can lead to up to 30 days in prison and/or $500 in fines. Trespassing in the second degree is punishable by up to four months in prison and/or $750 in fines. Trespassing in the first degree is punishable by up to six months in prison and/or $2,500 in fines if it is charged as a misdemeanor and up to 18 months in prison and/or $150,000 in fines if it is charged as a felony.
How to Protect Yourself Against a Trespassing Charge
If you have been arrested or charged with trespassing in Arizona, contact a criminal defense attorney for a free consultation right away. An attorney can further explain Arizona’s trespassing laws to you and help you understand your particular situation. As your representative, a criminal defense lawyer can craft a defense strategy based on your unique circumstances for the best chances of a positive case outcome.