Criminal trespass in the third degree involves remaining illegally on or entering a real property after the property owner, the police, or any person with legal control over the asset makes a reasonable request to leave or a reasonable notice banning entry. It is an Arizona Class 3 misdemeanor crime that carries a fine of $500, thirty days in jail, and a criminal record that can adversely affect your life and future. Considering the potential for harsh sentencing, you should not take your criminal charges lightly, irrespective of your allegation’s circumstances. The knowledgeable and experienced legal team at Phoenix Criminal Attorney can analyze your case facts to determine whether you had the right to be on the property, whether you were legally arrested, and if there is a possibility of having your charges dismissed or reduced. We can also assess your situation and advise you on protecting your rights.
When Is It Considered Third-Degree Trespassing in Arizona?
Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 is the statute that defines third-degree trespassing.
Individuals in Phoenix can break Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 in either of the following two ways:
- Knowingly remaining or entering the real property following a request by law enforcers, the property owner, or an individual having control over the asset, or a notice banning entry.
- Knowingly remaining illegally or entering a right-of-way for tracks, rolling stock, switching yards, or storage of a railroad firm.
The statute applies to both public and private property. Examples of this crime include the following:
- Entering a railroad firm’s switching yards when the firm has “No Trespassing” signs posted.
- Remaining in a commercial yard after law enforcers request you to leave.
- Remaining on somebody else’s residential yard after the asset’s owner asks you to leave.
The legal term “knowingly” means you committed the illegal act and knew the nature of your conduct.
The case’s specific facts determine whether the request to leave another person’s asset is reasonable.
Penalties and Consequences of Third-Degree Trespass
Third-degree criminal trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor. The offense carries the following penalties:
- Thirty days in jail, and
- Up to a five-hundred-dollar fine.
Sometimes the judge can award the accused probation instead of imposing a jail sentence.
Legal Defenses to Third-Degree Trespassing
You can challenge your criminal charges. Your criminal defense lawyer will collect and analyze the facts of your case to develop the most effective legal defense. Typical ARS 13-1502 defenses include the following:
- You did not know that you were committing a crime — One element of this crime is knowingly remaining on or entering the real property. Therefore, it is a defense for you to verify that you were unaware you were on another person’s land. You can also argue that you had the asset owner’s consent to stay at or enter the property in question.
- A reasonable request did not exist — To be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove there was a reasonable request for you to leave the real property. Therefore, it is a legal defense for you to say the request was unreasonable or did not exist.
- No prohibited area of a railroad firm — Regarding remaining on or entering a railroad company’s property, Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 applies to certain areas of a firm’s property, like train tracks or switching yards. Therefore, you can legally assert that you were not in these parts.
- Using necessity as a defense —Sometimes, you must choose the lesser of two evils. Necessity justifies trespass when it is necessary to protect property and life. For instance, if somebody attacks you, you would be justified to enter private property to protect yourself.
Three crimes that can be charged alongside or instead of Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 include the following:
Burglary (Arizona Revised Statute 13-1508 and Arizona Revised Statute 13-1501)
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1508 and Arizona Revised Statute 13-1501, burglary is illegally remaining or entering a property or structure intending to commit theft or another felony.
Like third-degree trespass, burglary involves a defendant illegally remaining on or entering somebody’s assets. The only difference is that in burglary, the defendant intends to engage in theft or commit another felony.
Arizona Revised Statute 13-1602 (Criminal Damage)
Criminal damage involves recklessly committing acts like:
- Tampering with somebody else’s asset, significantly impairing its function or value.
- Defacing somebody’s property.
If you commit third-degree trespass and damage other assets while on the property, the prosecutor can charge you with both Arizona Revised Statute 13-1502 and criminal damage.
You violate Arizona Revised Statute 13-2923 when you:
- Deliberately and knowingly engage in the course of conduct.
- Direct the conduct towards somebody else, and
- Cause the person to suffer reasonable fear for their safety, that of their immediate family members, or emotional distress.
Unlike third-degree trespass, which is an Arizona Class 3 misdemeanor, stalking is a felony that carries up to seven years in state prison.
Your Constitutional Rights After Your Third-Degree Trespassing Arrest in Phoenix
Knowing that you still have constitutional rights even after your arrest is essential. If upheld, the rights are meant to protect you.
The rights of people under arrest are highlighted in the following:
- Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — Nobody should be obliged to be a witness against themselves in a case. They should also not be deprived of liberty, property, or life without due process of law.
- Sixth Amendment — In a criminal prosecution, you are entitled to a public and speedy trial by a neutral jury, to be advised of the cause and nature of your accusation, to confront witnesses against you, to have a mandatory process for having witnesses in your favor, and to have a criminal defense attorney.
- Eighth Amendment — The judge is banned from imposing excessive fines and bail. They should also not inflict unusual and cruel penalties.
Who Can Arrest You
Law enforcers, including sheriffs, state troopers, or police officers, can make legal arrests. They can be arrested with a warrant or, in specific situations, without a warrant.
An arrest warrant is a court order detailing the individual to be charged and arrested for a crime. The judge or magistrate issues the warrant, directing all state law enforcers. The suspect should be taken to the court that issued the warrant.
The law enforcer should have an arrest warrant unless any of the circumstances below exist:
- The law enforcer has reasonable grounds to think that your arrest warrant has been issued in Arizona or another jurisdiction.
- The office has reasonable grounds to think that criminal activity was committed and that you are the individual who violated the law.
- You violated the Arizona third-degree trespassing law or attempted to break it in the presence of the law enforcer.
Things to Avoid Doing If Arrested for a Crime
Many people do not leave their homes and believe they will be arrested. Most suspects are arrested off-guard, especially when they believe they have not committed any crime. This element of surprise makes an arrest unsettling and upsetting, which often results in the suspect making mistakes, worsening the situation.
a) Waiting Too Long to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your first call after your arrest should be to a seasoned defense attorney. The legal counsel can protect your constitutional rights throughout your case and advise you of your rights.
They will also:
- look out for your best interest,
- negotiate with the prosecution for case dismissal or a favorable plea deal, and
- represent you in court.
Regarding your third-degree trespassing case, you should be sincere and open with your lawyer. Whatever you tell your counsel is protected by client-attorney privilege and remains confidential. The more information your lawyer has, the more they can help and defend you.
b) Avoid Doing Anything Without Your Lawyer’s Consent
While under arrest, do not take steps or decide on anything without informing your criminal defense attorney first. Do not give the police permission or sign any document without your lawyer’s consent. Whenever asked to take any step, calmly request your attorney’s presence. The legal guidance will prevent you from making costly mistakes and causing complications in your case.
c) Do Not Discuss the Case With Your Loved Ones
While having a confidante you can trust is essential, remember to keep the conversation about your accusation to a minimum. You do not know who the prosecution team might subpoena to interview or testify as a witness. It is safer to avoid discussing the legal matter and hire an attorney immediately. Let your criminal defense attorney be your confidante during your criminal case and do the talking on your behalf.
d) Do Not Act Out of Emotions
Typically, decisions made under emotional duress are not the best. Therefore, strive to be calm and collected. Since you want to get out of police custody, do not engage in anything that can confirm the criminal charges against you.
e) A Warning about Jailhouse Telephone Calls
While you can call your lawyer and loved ones, you should be cautious when exercising this right. The police can record your calls or try to eavesdrop on them.
f) Do Not Resist Your Arrest
When a law enforcer wants to arrest you, allow them to do it. Do not run away, fight them, scream, or yell at them, even if you are innocent or the arrest is unlawful. The police will consider any form of resistance a crime.
g) Do Not Speak With the Police Without Your Lawyer Present
You are entitled to remain silent. You can tell the officers your identification information, like your name, residence, and date of birth; anything else is unnecessary and not in your best interest. The police can and will use whatever you tell them against you in court.
Sometimes police officers promise to offer some leniency if you cooperate. Please do not fall for that; it is a trick to get you to admit to the crime.
h) Avoid Implicating Somebody Else
It would help if you did not name other individuals the law enforcers could be searching for instead of you concerning third-degree trespassing. While you might have information about the suspect(s), implicating them could validate your arrest more.
Obtaining Your Release on Bail
You are entitled to post bail and secure your release as you await trial. Bail is the amount of money you post with the jurisdiction holding you as a guarantee that you, the defendant, will attend all scheduled court hearings and comply with your bail conditions.
The judge sets the bail amount based on factors like your criminal history and the severity of the alleged crime. You can pay the required amount in cash, other security, or through a bondsman.
Please note that the judge can deny you bail if you are:
- pose a risk to your community, or
- a flight risk.
How Long Will Third-Degree Trespassing Charges Remain on Your Criminal Record?
In Arizona, your Class 3 misdemeanor conviction will remain on your criminal record until you are 99. In other words, your criminal record will continue to affect your life indefinitely after you have served time.
Some adverse effects of having a Class 3 misdemeanor on your criminal record include the following:
- Difficulty securing employment — Most companies conduct background checks and might hesitate to hire someone with a criminal record.
- Some professions require professional licenses, which your conviction could affect.
- Financial institutions consider applicants with criminal records to be high-risk borrowers, making it challenging to obtain financial aid.
- Landlords also conduct background checks, making finding suitable and affordable housing hard.
One option for addressing your Class 3 misdemeanor criminal record is sealing your criminal record. When you seal your criminal record, the public will not access your conviction, and you can say that you were never charged, arrested, or found guilty of your sealed crime.
You can petition the court to seal case records associated with the following:
- Dismissed or acquitted criminal charges,
- An arrest where the prosecutor did not file criminal charges and
- A qualified conviction after completing your sentence and waiting period.
For you to qualify for record sealing, you must:
- Complete your sentence terms, including paying fines and probation.
- Complete a two-year wait period.
- Not be subsequently found guilty of another crime.
After you satisfy these criteria, you should bring a petition:
- to the court where your conviction happened, or
- in the jurisdiction where your charges were brought, or your arrest occurred.
Then the court will give the prosecutor a copy of your prosecution. Unless the prosecution objects, the judge should grant your petition without a court hearing after thirty days.
Please note that your sealed records are still accessible/available for uses like:
- Criminal justice — If you violate another law, judges and the prosecution can use your sealed record for future sentencing decisions.
- When applying for a position with a law enforcement agency, a position that needs a fingerprint clearance, or placement of a foster child in your home.
Taking Plea Bargain
A plea agreement is a way to resolve criminal charges without a trial. The defendant enters a guilty plea in exchange for a more lenient sentence. The plea bargain should be constitutional and fair, and you, the defendant, should enter it voluntarily and knowingly.
Per Arizona Court Rules 17.4, a document is designed with terms agreed upon by the parties involved. Then the defendant, their attorney, and the prosecutor will sign it and submit it to court for approval. The judge can reject or accept the proposed plea at his/her discretion. If the judge rejects your plea agreement, you will withdraw your plea.
Typically, plea bargaining offers benefits to the prosecution and defendants. The parties avoid expensive and lengthy litigation when a fair agreement is reached. However, not all plea offers are fair, and defendants should reject some prosecutors’ offers.
Here are factors to consider during your plea negotiations:
- Your case’s strength — Your lawyer can assess the procedural issues and case facts to determine your criminal case’s weaknesses and strengths. If your case is strong, your lawyer could advise you to take it to trial. In this case, the prosecutor will perceive the loopholes in their case and agree to reduce your sentence or dismiss the charges.
- Whether your lawyer knows the judge — If the involved parties reach an agreement acceptable to the court, the judge will impose the agreed-upon penalties. Nevertheless, the judge will determine your sentence if your case proceeds to trial and you are found guilty. Knowing the judge’s previous sentencing history can assist you in weighing the pros and cons of accepting a plea offer.
- The collateral consequences of a conviction after pleading guilty to a crime.
Find a Competent Property Crime Defense Attorney Near Me
You could think it is not a big deal if you are charged with third-degree trespassing. That is a mistake. Arizona third-degree trespassing is more complicated than you might realize. Depending on your case, you could serve time, pay fines, and face probation. The Class 3 misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record can make it challenging to secure employment and housing. Fighting your charges goes beyond hiring a lawyer. It is about hiring an experienced legal professional you can trust with your case details.
Phoenix Criminal Attorney can assist you in aggressively fighting for your rights and freedom before the case proceeds to trial. We can interview witnesses and collect and analyze evidence to determine whether you had the right to be on the property. Start building your case defense by calling us at 602-551-8092 today.