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Arizona Burglary Laws and Penalties

Burglary is a serious offense in Arizona; however, did you know there are different types of burglary you may be charged with? Yes, all burglaries consist of “breaking-and-entering" onto a property illegally and stealing another person’s property. However, the details of each case can determine the severity of the offense and what types of punishments you may face.

Are you currently facing a burglary charge in the state of Arizona? Are you wondering what a burglary charge means? Are you trying to find a good defense for a burglary offense? Phoenix Criminal Attorney is here to help you. With our staff of high-quality attorneys and our access to resources, we want to hear your case if you have been charged with burglary.

What Does a Burglary Charge Mean?

As a criminal offense, burglary is divided between three different statutes in the Arizona criminal code. These are Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §§ 13.1506, 13.1507, and 13.1508. If you are currently facing a burglary offense, then you may have been charged with one of these statutes. Even though these are all burglary charges, the main difference between the three is dependent on the circumstances and details of the crime you are accused of committing.

ARS § 13.1506 is considered burglary in the third degree. This is a burglary case in which the defendant has unlawfully entered or remained in or on a non-residential structure, a fenced-in commercial yard, or a fenced-in residential yard with the intent to commit theft. This also includes breaking in to a vehicle with a master or manipulation key with the intent to commit theft. This simply means that the defendant has committed a burglary on a residential or non-residential property.

Example:

  • Maxwell breaks into an office building in order to steal some computers and printers. This is a simple burglary in the third degree.

ARS § 13.1507 is considered burglary in the second degree. This means the defendant has committed burglary by unlawfully entering or remaining on a residential structure with the intent to commit theft. A residential structure here means any type of structure that is a human residence, occupied or not (this would include: homes, apartments, condos, etc.).

Example:

  • Brittany unlawfully enters a random home to steal some valuable jewelry. Since this burglary is committed on residential property, it is burglary in the second degree.

ARS § 13.1508 is considered burglary in the first degree. This means that the defendant or accomplice has committed one of the above actions (13.1506 or 13.1507) while possessing explosives or a dangerous weapon. This is the most serious of the burglary charges.

Example:

  • Danny and Sara break into their neighbors’ empty apartment with a gun. They both take expensive electronics from the apartment. The couple may be charged with burglary in the first degree.

All three types of burglary offenses involve the unlawful entering or remaining on property in order to steal another person’s property. Burglary in the third degree is the simplest of charges as it reflects a burglary in its definition. Burglary in the first degree is more serious since dangerous, and harmful, weapons were used during the burglary.

Any type of burglary offense may lead to severe punishment in Arizona. The more serious the crime, the more severe the punishment.

Why Am I Charged with Burglary?

You may be questioning why you are charged with burglary. When it comes to burglary, it is important to know the key elements of a case that may lead to a charge in Arizona. Remember you may be charged with burglary under three different statutes (§§ 13.1506, 13.1507, and 13.1508).

With any type of burglary, think about “breaking-and-entering" as the first point in these cases. You may be charged because you have unlawfully entered a Commercial, residential, or non-residential structure. This can mean you have broken-in with force or just walked into a home or office building without permission.

Secondly, in order for a crime to be considered burglary, you must have unlawfully entered a structure with the intent to commit theft. This indicates that you may have purposely enter a structure of any type in order to steal another person’s property.

Details such as what type of structure you have unlawfully entered, and the presence of dangerous weapons can determine what type of burglary you have committed. Remember: the more serious a crime you have committed, the more serious the potential punishment.

At its core, you may be charged with burglary if you have:

  • Unlawfully entered/remained on a structure of any type
  • Had the intent to steal another person’s property

What are the Penalties for a Burglary Offense?

The possible penalties for a burglary offense are determined by what type of burglary you are charged with, as well as the defendant’s past criminal history.

Burglary in the third degree, or ARS § 13.1506, is considered to be a class 4 felony under the Arizona criminal code. Under this class, the defendant potentially faces between a minimum one (1) year to a maximum three and three-quarters (3.75) years in an Arizona state prison.

Burglary in the second degree, or ARS § 13.1507, is considered to be a class 3 felony under the Arizona criminal code. Under this class, the defendant potentially faces between a minimum two (2) to a maximum eight and three-quarters (8.75) years in an Arizona state prison.

Burglary in the first degree, or ARS § 13.1508, is considered to be a class 3 felony if on a non-residential structure, or fenced-in commercial or residential yard. This may be upgraded to a class 2 felony if the crime is committed in a residential structure.  Since it’s considered a class 3 felony, the accused defendant could possibly face between a minimum two (2) to a maximum seven (7) years in an Arizona state prison. As a class 2 felony, the defendant potentially faces a minimum seven (7) to a maximum twenty-one (21) years in an Arizona state prison.

All three types of burglary penalties may vary depending on multiple details of your case, such as: where the burglary took place, previous criminal history, the presence of an accomplice, the use of weapons, and if there are injuries to the victim.

Again, the penalties for burglary are as follows:

  • Third degree: 1 - 3.75 years in prison
  • Second degree: 2 - 8.75 years in prison
  • First degree: 2 - 7 years in prison for class 3 felony; 7 - 21 years in prison for class 2 felony

Always remember that specific details of you case may influence the type of punishment the court may give you.

Similar Offenses and Penalties

Besides burglary, there are similar and related offenses that a defendant may be charged with. Often times the details of a criminal case may present another crime that is not, in fact, burglary. These offenses include: robbery, possession of burglary tools, and criminal trespassing.

Robbery

As defined by ARS §13.1902, the crime of robbery is considered to be the taking of another individual’s property from their body, or their presence, through the use of force or threat.

Burglary is different since burglaries usually occur when the owner of the property is not present. For a robbery, the defendant usually takes someone’s property directly from the person by using physical force or by implying potential harm if they do not hand it over.

This considered a class 4 felony, and the possible punishments include: between one (1) and three and three-quarters (3.75) years in state prison. If the defendant has a prior conviction, this increases to two and a quarter (2.25) to seven and a half (7.5) years in prison.

Possession of Burglary Tools

Under ARS §13.1505, a possession of burglary tools indicates that you possess any type of tool that common aides in burglaries, such as explosives or any instruments that are commonly used. Also, you may be charged if you possess, sell, or purchase a vehicle manipulation key or master key. However, if your business involves the use of one of these keys, you may not be charged.

The act of simply possessing these tools is enough to be charged. These tools are illegal due to their common usage in burglaries.

This is a class 6 felony in Arizona. The possible punishments include: a minimum four (4) months to a maximum two (2) years in prison.

Criminal Trespassing

Defined under ARS §§13.1502, 13.1503, and 13.1504, criminal trespassing is the unlawful entering or remaining on any property.

ARS §13.1502 is criminal trespassing in the third degree meaning remaining or entering property after a law official tells you not to, or if you trespass on railroad property. This is a class 3 misdemeanor with possible punishment of up to thirty (30) days in prison and fines of $500.

ARS §13.1503 is criminal trespassing in the second degree meaning you have unlawfully entered or remained on any nonresidential structure or fenced-in commercial yard. This is a class 2 misdemeanor with a punishment of up to four (4) months in prison and fines of $750.

ARS §13.1504 is criminal trespassing in the first degree meaning you have unlawfully entered or remained on a residential structure, fenced-in residential yard, or critical public service facility. This can also mean you have vandalized another person’s property. This can either be a class 6 or a class 5 felony depending on the circumstances. Possible punishments include: up to eighteen (18) months in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000.

What Needs to Be Proven in a Burglary Case?

Under ARS §§ 13.1506, 13.1507, and 13.1508, burglary is clearly defined as to determine what elements must be must be present to be considered burglary in Arizona. The points presented in these criminal code sections are called the elements of the case, and they are crucial in determining whether or not you can be charged with the offense. Under these burglary charges, the court would need to prove specific elements, such as: you entered a structure unlawfully, you had the intent to steal property, and if weapons were present during the alleged incident.

Unlawful Entering/Remaining on Structure

For a burglary offense, the prosecutor needs to prove that you entered or remained on or in a structure (commercial, residential, or non-residential) unlawfully. This element can be proven through multiple ways.

Unlawfully entering can be breaking into a home or commercial structure. This can be made to indicate that you have entered or remained in a structure without receiving the proper permission. This can also indicate that you have decided to stay in a structure against the will of the structure’s owners or supervisor.

Examples:

  • Sam enters an apartment by breaking the door to gain entrance.
  • Maria decides to walk into an unlocked home without permission of the owner.

This is just one of the elements needed in order to prove guilt in burglary cases.

Intent

Secondly, and maybe most importantly, in order to be charged with burglary, you must have acted with the intent to steal another person’s property. There just needs to be an intent to steal to be charged—this means you can be charged without taking anything.

This can mean that the defendant planned on breaking into a home in order to steal any valuables that may be present. Or, this can mean that someone unlawfully stays in a building in order to see if they can take anything. All of these instances display an intent to steal and be charged as burglary.

Once again, the prosecutor needs to prove this element in burglary cases. Otherwise, you may not be charged with burglary.

Presence of Dangerous Weapons

To be charged with an ARS § 13.1508, the prosecutor needs to prove that you, or an accomplice, carried a dangerous weapon at the time of the burglary. This can mean that while committing a burglary, you, or someone else in your party, had on them a dangerous weapon such as explosives, a fire arm, or another type of weapon (real or simulated).

Even if the prosecutor is unable to present sufficient evidence to prove that you, or someone else, had a weapon while committing the crime, you can still be charged with burglary in the third or second degree depending on the case’s details.

If the prosecutor cannot sufficiently prove any of these details, you cannot be charged with burglary in the state of Arizona.

What Defenses Can Be Used?

If you have been charged with burglary, there are common defenses that can be utilized with the help of a professional attorney. Defenses can be used to disprove key elements of a burglary, and may potentially drop the charges. They are used so that people who feel they have been unfairly charged can drop the charges. Common defenses for burglary cases include: permission to enter, lack of intent, and coercion.

Permission to Enter

Burglary implies that the defendant has unlawfully entered or remained on a structure of any type. Of course, if you did in fact have permission to enter the property, or if you felt that you did not have to ask for permission for whatever reason, you may not be charged with burglary.

This can be brought up as a type of miscommunication between the defendant and the owner of the structure. Also, if the defendant does of ownership, or the right to enter the structure of any kind, they cannot be charged. In this sense, the act of entering or remaining on the property was not unlawful.

Lack of Intent

If you entered a structure of any kind unlawfully but without the intent to steal anything, you cannot be charged with burglary. You may be charged with criminal trespassing depending on the circumstance around your case; however, a lack of intent to steal means the act cannot be considered burglary in Arizona.

Coercion

Lastly, another defense that may be used it coercion. This means that the defendant committed a burglary because another person, or party, threated or forced them to do so. This means that the defendant acted against his or her will when committing the crime.

If this is so, the defendant would need to provide sufficient evidence to suggest that he or she was forced to break and enter a structure in order to steal property.

Locating a Criminal Attorney Near Me

Burglary is a serious offense in Arizona, and the punishments can be quite severe for anyone. If you, or someone you know, has been charged with burglary in any degree, we can provide our assistance. At Phoenix Criminal Lawyer, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with top-notch attorneys and a team of friendly and resourceful workers. If you want us to review your case, contact us at 602-551-8092. As a criminal defense firm, we want to make sure you can find the right defense and we want to fight for you. You should not have to face these charges on your own, especially if you do not know what to do after you have been charged. We are here to help you when you need it most.

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