Burglary Attorney in Phoenix
Burglary is the act of breaking into a home or other property in order to take items that belong to someone else. Burglary is a particular type of theft that combines another criminal activity, breaking and entering, with theft. Burglary is only charged under certain circumstances, but the state of Arizona broadens the definition of “property” to include a wide variety of locations where burglary can occur, including vending machines and rights-of-way of public areas.
Essentially, Arizona burglary can be classified under three types:
- Criminal trespass in the third degree. This is the least serious charge a prosecutor can make when someone has willfully entered property or remained on property that does not belong to them. It is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
- Criminal trespass in the second degree. This violation is more serious than third degree criminal trespass and is usually charged when someone illegally enters a yard or non-residential structure. It is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
- Criminal trespass in the first degree. This charge can be a Class 6 felony or a misdemeanor, depending on where the incident occurs. It is a felony if the person knowingly enters private property and defaces it, sets it on fire or commits some other malicious act.
- Possession of burglary tools. In order to differentiate between someone who merely trespasses and someone who has the intent to commit burglary, Arizona law makes a separate charge and distinction between possession of burglary tools and simple trespass. Being in possession of tools suitable to burglarize a home is a Class 6 felony, whether the burglary took place or not.
- Burglary in the third degree. This Class 4 felony is charged when someone enters a property for the purpose of theft, as evidence by the possession of burglary tools or actual theft of items. Third degree burglary applies to cars and to yards, but not to residential homes.
- Burglary in the second degree. A Class 3 felony, second-degree burglary occurs when a burglar enters a residential property.
- Burglary in the first degree. This charge can be a Class 3 or Class 2 felony depending on location; residential homes carry higher burglary penalties than yards, vehicles or commercial properties. A person can be charged with first-degree burglary if he or she is in possession of a dangerous weapon at the time of the commission of the crime.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to help someone who is accused of burglary reduce his or her charges or even form a valid defense.