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Burglary Charges in Arizona – Punishments and Defenses

When you are charged with burglary in Phoenix or other areas of Arizona, you are facing serious punishment and need the help of an aggressive criminal defense attorney. Burglary can occur when a person purposefully enters a property unlawfully with the intent to commit a theft or felony, according to ARS 13-1506, ARS 13-1507 and ARS 13-1508.

There are three distinct classifications of theft crimes and charges in the state of Arizona. Those include:

Third degree burglary:

Charges of 3rd degree burglary result if one of the following acts are committed:

  1. Unlawfully entering or remaining within a nonresidential structure or fenced in area with intent to commit any theft or felony, or
  2. Unlawfully entering or remaining within a residential structure or fenced in area with intent to commit any theft or felony, or

Second degree burglary:

Entering or remaining within a residential structure, such as a home, apartment building, townhouse or other place where people live, unlawfully with intent to commit any theft or felony

First degree burglary:

The most serious of burglary charges, 1st degree burglary is committing a 2nd or 3rd degree burglary with a firearm, explosive or deadly weapon. When committed in a residential structure, the resulting charge is a class two felony. Against a non-residential structure, fenced in yard or property, it is a class three felony.

Burglary charges in Arizona do not require that the defendant has actually taken something from the property. There just must be intent to take something or to commit a felony, for the crime to result in these charges.

Punishments for Burglary

Punishments for burglary can be quite severe in Arizona. Even when convicted of the least serious charges, a year in jail is possible.

Conviction of burglary results in the following penalties:

Third degree burglary:

A class four felony can result in 18 months to three years in prison. A first offense can be probation with no time behind bars or between one year and three years and three months of imprisonment. With one prior felony conviction, the sentence can be prison for two years and three months to seven years and six months. A term of six to 15 years in prison results from a 3rd degree burglary conviction after two prior felony convictions.

Second degree burglary:

A class three felony with probation and no jail term, up to a year in jail or imprisonment for two years to eight years and nine months. After a prior conviction, prison term will be three years and six months to 16 years and three months. Two prior convictions lead to seven years and six months in prison to up to 25 years in prison.

First degree burglary:

If 1st degree burglary is committed on a residential structure, the resulting term is four to 10 years in prison as a class two felony. For a non-residential structure or fenced-in area, the result is a class three felony carrying a term of two years and six months to seven years.

Defenses for Burglary Charges in Arizona

Burglary, and similar shoplifting charges, can be disputed through several defenses:

  • “Lack of intent” can be argued as a defense through the attorney’s explanation that the defendant was in a place they did not have permission to be, but he or she had no intention of committing a felony crime. This argument, when successful, can reduce the crime to trespassing.
  • “Mistake of fact” can be argued when the defendant was drinking or not familiar with the area and accidentally entered the property.
  • A defense of entering a property to gain permission to use the phone or for another type of assistance may be used, clarifying that the owner called police before the defendant could explain why they were on the property.
  • Miranda rights violation defense can be used in burglary charges, as it is used in other cases
  • Denial of right to counsel is used when the defendant is not permitted to speak with an attorney after arrest
  • Forensic flaws can be proven through fingerprint testing, DNA and other forensic tests
  • Coercion or intimidation into a confession is another argument often used in defense of individuals charged with burglary

An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue on behalf of a charged client toward reduction of charges, if not dismissal altogether. David is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization and our firm is rated AV® by Martindale-Hubbell®. When you need an attorney for Arizona burglary charges, call DM Cantor at (602) 307-0808 for a free case review.


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