What is Burglary?
Burglary is defined as the act of breaking into a property to take items that belong to another person or company. Burglary is a type of theft but combines another criminal activity: breaking and entering. Burglary is only charged in certain circumstances. The state of Arizona has broadened the definition of “property” to include a variety of locations where burglary can occur, such as homes, vehicles, vending machines and even rights-of-way of public areas.
How Does Arizona Law Classify Burglary?
Under Arizona state law, burglary can be classified as: Criminal Trespass
- Criminal trespass in the third degree – This is the most minor charge you could face and is charged when someone willfully enters a property or remains on property that does not belong to them. It is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor.
- Criminal trespass in the second degree – This is a more serious violation than third degree criminal trespass and is typically charged when an individual illegally enters a yard or non-residential structure. It is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Criminal trespass in the first degree – This is the most serious trespassing charge you could face and can be charged as a Class 6 felony or a misdemeanor, depending on where the crime occurs. It is considered a felony if the individual knowingly enters a private property and defaces it, sets fire to it or commits any other malicious act.
Possession of Burglary Tools This charge helps differentiate between an individual who merely trespasses and someone who is intent on committing burglary. Under Arizona law, this is a separate charge with the distinction that the individual possessed burglary tools along with trespassing. Being in possession of tools that are suitable for burglarizing a home is a Class 6 felony, even if the burglary did not take place. Burglary
- Burglary in the third degree – This is considered a Class 4 felony and is charged when someone enters a property for the purpose of theft. This is determined by the possession of burglary tools or the actual theft of items. Third degree burglary can apply to cars and yards, but it does not apply to residential homes.
- Burglary in the second degree- This is a Class 3 felony and is charged when a burglar enters a residential property.
- Burglary in the first degree – This charge can be a Class 3 or Class 2 felony. The type of felony charged depends on location of the crime. Residential homes carry higher burglary penalties than a yard, vehicle or commercial property. An individual can also face first-degree burglary if he or she is in possession of a dangerous weapon when committing the crime.
Building a Criminal Defense Against Burglary
If you are facing burglary charges, it is important that you take them seriously. A criminal defense attorney, like those at the Oswalt Law Group in Phoenix, can help those who are accused of burglary by fighting for a reduced charge or helping the defendant form a valid defense to the charges.