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Facts About Criminal Trespass

Posted by Shawn Hamp | Aug 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

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What you should know about Criminal Trespass laws in Arizona.

If you are reading this article then you or someone you know may be accused of criminal trespass or you may be researching trespassing laws in Arizona to determine if someone is legally trespassing on your property.  The following article is written to give you some information about the laws of criminal trespass. 

What is Considered Criminal Trespass?

Criminal Trespass is defined under Chapter 15 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Criminal trespass is committed when a person “knowingly” enters or remain unlawfully on any real property (land, building, etc.).

Criminal trespass can also be committed when a person is given a reasonable request to leave the property by law enforcement, the owner of the property, or person having lawful control of the property and knowingly remains unlawfully on the property.

Burglary is committed when a person commits Criminal Trespass and also intends to commit a felony or theft on the property in question.

What is Criminal Trespass In the First Degree?

Criminal trespass in the First Degree is defined under A.R.S. 13-1504.

A person commits criminal trespass in the first degree by intentionally doing the following things:

  1. Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a residential structure.
  2. Entering or remaining unlawfully in a fenced residential yard.
  3. Entering any residential yard and, without lawful authority, looking into the residential structure thereon in reckless disregard of infringing on the inhabitant's right of privacy.
  4. Entering unlawfully on real property that is subject to a valid mineral claim or lease with the intent to hold, work, take or explore for minerals on the claim or lease.
  5. Entering or remaining unlawfully on the property of another and burning, defacing, mutilating or otherwise desecrating a religious symbol or other religious property of another without the express permission of the owner of the property.
  6. Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a critical public service facility.

Residential Structure

“Residential structure” means any structure, movable or immovable, permanent or temporary, that is adapted for both human residence and lodging whether occupied or not.

Fenced Residential Yard

“Fenced residential yard” means a unit of real property that immediately surrounds or is adjacent to a residential structure and that is enclosed by a fence, wall, building or similar barrier or any combination of fences, walls, buildings or similar barriers.

Critical Public Service Facility

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Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a critical public service facility is considered a Class 5 Felony in Arizona.

“Critical public service facility” means:

  1. A structure or fenced yard that is posted with signage indicating it is a felony to trespass or signage indicating high voltage or high pressure and is used by a rail, bus, air or other mass transit provider, a public or private utility, any municipal corporation, city, town or other political subdivision that is organized under state law and that generates, transmits, distributes or otherwise provides natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, electricity or a combustible substance for a delivery system that is not a retail-only facility, a telecommunications carrier or telephone company, a municipal provider as defined in section 45-561, a law enforcement agency, a public or private fire department or an emergency medical service provider.
  2. A structure or fenced yard or any equipment or apparatus that is posted with signage indicating it is a felony to trespass or signage indicating high voltage or high pressure and is used to manufacture, extract, transport, distribute or store gas, including natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, electricity, water or hazardous materials, unless it is a retail-only facility.

Criminal trespass in the first degree under subsection may be punishable as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the type and nature of the offense.

What is Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree?

Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree is defined under A.R.S. 13-1503. Criminal trespass in the second degree; classification

Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree is committed when someone knowingly or intentionally enters or remains unlawfully in or on any “nonresidential structure” or in any “fenced commercial yard”.

Nonresidential Structure

“Nonresidential structure” means any structure other than a residential structure and includes a retail establishment.

Fenced Commercial Yard

“Fenced commercial yard” means a unit of real property that is surrounded completely by fences, walls, buildings or similar barriers, or any combination of fences, walls, buildings or similar barriers, and that is zoned for business operations or where livestock, produce or other commercial items are located.

Criminal trespass in the second degree is a class 2 misdemeanor.

What is Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree?

Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree is defined under A.R.S. 13-1502.

A person commits criminal trespass in the third degree by:

  1. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer, the owner or any other person having lawful control over such property, or reasonable notice prohibiting entry.
  2. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on the right-of-way for tracks, or the storage or switching yards or rolling stock of a railroad company.

A request to leave by a law enforcement officer acting at the request of the owner of the property or any other person having lawful control over the property has the same legal effect as a request made by the property owner or other person having lawful control of the property.

Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class 3 misdemeanor.

How long do you go to jail for Criminal Trespass?

Criminal Trespassing in the First Degree may be punishable as a Class 5 or as a Class 6 Felony if committed inside a residential structure or on the property of another to deface religious property or a critical public services facility.  All other forms of Criminal Trespass are misdemeanors.

A Class 5 Felony is punishable between 1/2 to up to 2.5 years prison. It may be eligible with probation and up to 1 year in county jail.

A class 6 Felony is punishable between 1/3 and up to 2 years prison. A Class 6 Felony may be eligible with probation with up to 1 year in jail.

A Class 1 Misdemeanor is punishable up to 6 Months in Jail.

A Class 2 Misdemeanor is punishable up to 4 Months Jail.

A Class 3 Misdemeanor is punishable up to 30 days Jail.

What to Do If Charged With Criminal Trespass?

For the State to prove that someone criminally trespassed they must prove that someone “Knowingly” entered or remained unlawfully on someone else's property. To do this the government has to prove that someone intentionally remained on the property without permission.

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Attorneys Shawn Hamp and Virginia Crews.

It is important to recollect and document all information to prove that someone had lawful authority to be on the property or information that shows someone reasonably believed they had permission to be on the property.  This could include witnesses, statements, photographs.  It is important to not commit any further trespass to gather this information.

If you are charged with criminal trespass you should consult an attorney who is familiar with the laws of Criminal Trespass in Arizona.  They can give you legal information about legal defenses, possible punishment and the laws related to Criminal Trespass.

About the Author

Shawn Hamp

President and lead counsel for the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp, P.C. (An Arizona Professional Corporation), Shawn Hamp has practiced law for more than 15 years with an emphasis in criminal law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Hamp has been lead counsel in hundreds of criminal trials and court...

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