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The Basics of Arizona Criminal Trespass Law

In Arizona, property owners generally have a right to exclude others from their property, and if this right is violated by someone, it becomes a criminal offense. Criminal trespass is often accompanied by burglary, but this article will only focus on the trespass element, as trespass can easily occur without burglary or other crimes attached to it. Criminal trespass has varying degrees of severity based on the type of trespass committed.

How Arizona Defined Criminal Trespassing

Before the different degrees of trespass are discussed, the terms necessary to understand the crime will be defined first. A.R.S. 13-1501 defines trespass as “entering or remaining unlawfully,” as a person who enters or remains on a premise when their intent for entering or remaining is not licensed, authorized, or otherwise privileged. Entry means any part of an instrument or a person’s body inside the external boundaries of a structure or real property. This means even the slightest intrusion can be considered trespass.

A nonresidential structure is any structure other than a residential structure and includes a retail establishment. Meanwhile, a residential structure means any structure, movable or immovable, permanent, or temporary, that is adapted for both human residence and lodging whether occupied or not. For example, an unoccupied RV would still be considered a residential structure for the purposes of trespass. Lastly, a critical public service facility means a structure that serves a public need such as gas, electricity, telecommunications or even is used by rail, bus, air, or other mass transit providers. An example of a critical public service facility would be a power plant. 

Third Degree Trespass

The least severe form of trespass is a third degree trespass. Under A.R.S. 13-1502, A third degree trespass has two possible prongs:

  • Entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer; or any other person having control over the property or reasonable notice prohibiting entry
  • Entering or remaining unlawfully on the right-of-way tracks, or the storage or switching yards or rolling stock of a railroad company

This degree of trespass is considered more minor as it could imply a non-serious situation where you ask a nosy neighbor to leave your yard and they refuse to do so. Third degree trespass is a class 3 misdemeanor.

Second Degree Trespass

According to A.R.S. 13-1503, second degree trespass involves “knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in or on any nonresidential structure or in any fenced commercial yard.” This is a bump up in severity from third degree trespass as it is a class 2 misdemeanor. 

First Degree Trespass

A.R.S. 13-1504 defines first degree trespass under six different prongs which carry three different charges, a class 5 felony, a class 6 felony, and a class 1 misdemeanor. Therefore, first degree trespass is the most complex classification. To summarize, an intrusion onto residential property, violation of mineral rights, desecrating another’s religious property, or entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a critical public service facility could all be first degree trespass. Each circumstance carries with it a differing degree of felony or misdemeanor, for instance, entering or remaining in or on a critical public service facility is a class 6 felony. 

How the Litwak Law Group can help you

Litwak Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on fighting aggressively and professionally for the constitutional rights and freedoms of their clients. Should you be charged with trespass in Arizona, contact Litwak Law Group today.