Phoenix Criminal Trespassing Lawyer

Criminal trespassing can be charged as a felony in Arizona depending on the degree of which a person is charged. If you are facing criminal trespassing charges, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Phoenix criminal trespassing lawyer as soon as possible. Contact AZ Defenders for dedicated, white-glove service and aggressive criminal defense from a team of trial lawyers with a record of success in defending this type of crime.

Phoenix Trespassing Attorney

Why Choose AZ Defenders?

  • Our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in Arizona law, with more than two decades of combined experience representing clients in these type of matters.
  • We are respected by our peers and clients alike, with a reputation for aggressive and successful criminal defense and high-quality, personalized service.
  • Our criminal trespassing lawyers will attack any weakness in the evidence against you and use it to strengthen your defense.

What Is Criminal Trespassing?

Criminal trespassing is a complex area of law that involves much more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It refers to intentionally entering or knowingly remaining on someone else’s property without that person’s permission or authorization. The most common way a person is charged with criminal trespass is when a person commits ignores a sign and enters a property illegally. To prove a criminal trespass allegation, prosecutors must establish a few key elements.

  1. The defendant’s intent to trespass. The defendant must have knowingly and intentionally entered or remained on someone else’s property without authorization. Accidentally wandering onto someone else’s land without realizing it, for example, would not be criminal trespassing.
  2. Fulfillment of Arizona’s definition of trespassing. The act in question must meet the state’s definition of trespassing: knowingly entering or staying on a property without lawful authority (Arizona Revised Statute 13-1504).
  3. Warning or notice required. Some states require some type of sign, notice or warning telling the alleged perpetrator he or she is on private property to prosecute this type of crime.

Arizona’s definition of criminal trespassing has several parts. Many different actions can fulfill the definition of criminal trespassing. The penalties involved will depend on the severity of the crime so speak with a knowledgeable Phoenix trespassing attorney to learn more. In Arizona, criminal trespass is split up into first degree (the most severe with the harshest penalties), second degree, and third degree (the least severe with the least harsh penalties) crimes.

Criminal Trespass In The First Degree

A person commits first degree criminal trespassing by:

  1. Entering or remaining unlawfully on a residential structure (which is any structure used for human residence or lodging); or
  2. Entering or remaining unlawfully in a fenced residential yard (which is a part of a property that is fenced in)
  3. Entering a residential yard and looking into the residential structure, thereby violating the property owner’s right to privacy.
  4. Entering or remaining on real property that has mineral claim with the intent to hold, work, or take minerals from the claim or lease.
  5. Entering or remaining unlawfully on a person’s property and burning, defacing, or manipulating a religious symbol without the owner’s express permission.
  6. Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a critical public services facility unlawfully.
  7. Paragraphs 1, 5, or 6 are class 6 felonies; Paragraphs 2, 3, or 4 are class 1 misdemeanors.

Criminal Trespass In The Second Degree

A person commits criminal trespass in the second degree by entering or remaining unlawfully on a nonresidential structure (which is any structure not used for residing in, this includes retail stores) or in any fenced commercial yard (which is a fenced in area around a commercial structure). Criminal trespassing in the second degree is a class 2 misdemeanor.

Criminal Trespass In The Third Degree

A person commits criminal trespassing in the third degree by:

  1. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after the owner or any other person (this applies if a police officer has given you a “trespassing warning” at the request of the property owner) with lawful control over the property has asked you to leave.
  2. Entering or remaining unlawfully on the right-of-way for tracks (this includes any train track or light-rail track), storage, switching yards, or rolling stock of a railroad company.
    Criminal trespassing in the third degree is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Penalties For Trespassing In Arizona

A conviction for the offense of criminal trespassing in Phoenix, AZ could come with harsh penalties. The specific consequences you could face depend on the class of the alleged crime. If found guilty of a first-degree criminal trespass felony, you could receive a sentence of up to 24 months in prison and $150,000 in fines. This is generally the harshest punishment for criminal trespassing in Arizona. A class 6 felony trespassing conviction could come with up to 12 months in prison or 24 months in jail.

A class 1 misdemeanor for trespassing in Arizona comes with a range of punishments from probation to up to 6 months in jail, plus a fine of $2,500 and an 84% surcharge. A class 2 misdemeanor is punishable with probation and up to 4 months in jail, plus a fine of $750 with an 80% surcharge. A class 2 criminal trespass misdemeanor can come with probation and up to 30 days in jail, plus a fine of $500 with an 80% surcharge.

A conviction for criminal trespass in any degree in Arizona could significantly impact your life. It could give you a criminal record, leading to more severe punishments for additional criminal convictions in the future. A criminal record can also interfere with your ability to find housing and employment. Any amount of time spent in jail, prison or on probation could have repercussions on your personal and professional lives, such as losing your job. The costs associated with a conviction could also put you under financial strain. It is critical to work with a qualified Phoenix trespassing attorney to try to fight a criminal trespass charge in Arizona.

Trespassing Lawyer Phoenix

Criminal Damage To Property

The penalties for trespassing and inflicting criminal damage to a property are steep in Arizona. Criminal damage is the crime of recklessly damaging, defacing, tampering with or drawing on someone else’s property. Defacing property can be enough to bring criminal damage charges. The charges increase, however, if criminal damage impairs the property’s function or value, damages a utility, or deprives livestock of water, according to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1602. Any type of criminal damage could lead to serious charges against the alleged perpetrator.

The consequences of a criminal damage conviction in Arizona range from a class 2 misdemeanor to class 4 felony. The classification will depend on the value of the property and the extent of the damage. Damaging property worth less than $250 is a class 2 misdemeanor, while property damage worth $10,000 or more is a class 4 felony. You could also face a class 4 felony charge for intentionally tampering with or damaging a utility in a way that creates a public safety hazard. The penalties for criminal damage to property can include time in prison, years of probation and up to $150,000 in fines. Learn more by speaking with a Phoenix trespassing lawyer experienced in criminal damage.

Defenses To Criminal Trespass Crimes

The Phoenix criminal trespassing attorneys at AZ Defenders pride themselves in finding any and all weaknesses to the prosecution’s case and utilizing the absolute best possible legal defenses to each and every one of our clients’ charges to ensure them the absolute best outcome. Over the years our attorneys have successfully utilized the following defenses to criminal trespass crimes:

  • Lack of the intent/knowledge by the person to enter or remain illegally on the property
  • Suppression of Evidence Due to Constitutional Violations by the police agency (including: illegal searches, illegally forced confessions, Miranda violation, and right to Counsel violations).
  • Dismissal of charges through Pretrial Motions.
  • Establishing the State’s lack of sufficient evidence for conviction through interviews and other investigation.

If you hire our trespassing attorneys in Phoenix, we can analyze your specific situation and custom-tailor the ideal defense strategy. We can explain your defense in more detail using information unique to your case. Ask for information about your individual criminal trespassing suit during a free legal consultation at AZ Defenders. In the meantime, use the following breakdown of some of the most widely accepted defenses to criminal trespass in Arizona for an idea of what strategies might be available to you.

Consent Defense

Consent refers to an authority’s permission for someone else to enter or remain on the property. If the owner of the premises gave you permission to be where you were, you could use the consent defense during a criminal trespass suit. An owner’s words could give you express consent or his or her actions could provide implied consent. For instance, if someone waves you onto his or her property, that could be enough to establish implied consent. Proving a consent defense may take testimony from the property owner him or herself or statements from other people who witnessed the owner giving consent.

It might be possible to use the consent defense even if the property owner was neutral in giving his or her permission. If a property owner did not invite you onto the property but also did not take action to make you leave, such as through warning signs or directly telling you not to enter, you may be able to use silence as your consent defense. However, this is a more difficult stance to prove than if the property owner directly permitted you to enter. Note that you may not use consent as a defense if the person who gave it to you was a minor, under duress, incompetent, intoxicated or induced by fraud.

Public Necessity Defense

The public necessity defense argues that you entered or remained on someone else’s property out of necessity to protect public health or safety. If you noticed a fire on someone else’s property and entered to put it out, for example, you would have grounds to use the public necessity defense against a trespassing charge. Arizona law does not prohibit trespassing if someone violates property laws in a good faith attempt to address something that is threatening the whole community or public interest. It is not a crime to take reasonable action to protect public interest if an immediate and imperative necessity exists to do so by entering another person’s property without authorization. The steps you took to remedy the issue must be reasonable to use this defense, however and a Phoenix trespassing lawyer can help.

Private Necessity Defense

Private necessity may also be a usable defense depending on the situation. Like public necessity, this defense states that the actions you took were reasonable and necessary for the safety of others. The private necessity defense, however, focuses on the safety of an individual or tract of land. Your Phoenix trespassing attorney may use this defense against trespassing charges if your actions were reasonably necessary to protect someone from serious bodily injury or death or to protect the land from damage or destruction. The private necessity defense operates on the rationale that preserving someone’s life or property is more important than upholding property rights.

Your lawyer may be able to use the private necessity defense if the person you were protecting by trespassing was yourself. If you entered someone else’s land without permission while running away from someone trying to hurt you, for example, the private necessity defense may protect you from criminal charges for trespassing. Your lawyer will need to prove that you were in fear of your life or at risk of imminent bodily harm to use this type of criminal trespassing defense. Working with a lawyer can make it easier to use the private or public necessity defense during a criminal trespass case in Phoenix.

Privilege Defense

Another frequently used defense during trespassing cases is the privilege defense. This defense holds that you were trespassing in an attempt to recover property that is yours by right or law. Arizona law permits trespassing in these circumstances if you lost control of your land through some fault of the owner of the land or chattel or from an act of God, such as a flood. If you have a good faith belief that you own the property you were on when arrested for trespassing, your Phoenix criminal trespassing lawyer may be able to use the privilege defense to convince the courts to dismiss the charges against you.

Free Consultation With A Phoenix Trespassing Attorney

If you have been charged with first, second, or third-degree criminal trespassing in Phoenix, it is crucial to get an experienced Phoenix criminal trespassing lawyer on your side without delay. A personalized defense strategy is your best hope of protecting yourself from the serious consequences that can come with a criminal trespass conviction. Our attorneys can review your specific case, gather the facts, build as strong a defense as possible and stand by your side throughout the criminal trial process. Speak to our attorneys right away if you are facing charges for criminal trespassing in Phoenix, AZ. Contact AZ Defenders today to schedule a free consultation.

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