Trespassing on your criminal record makes you appear to be untrustworthy, and that’s not what you want someone to find when they run a background check on you. If you’re facing criminal trespass charges in Tucson, Arizona, we know exactly how to help you. Every case is different, and we’re prepared to defend you.


How Does Arizona Define Criminal Trespass?


Arizona defines trespass in a lot of ways. It can be your presence in any area where a sign that indicates that trespassing isn’t allowed, your presence in an area where the property owner or renter hasn’t told you that you can be there, or simply overstaying your welcome in a place after you’ve been asked to leave a place.


Third Degree Criminal Trespass


This is usually when you’ve failed to comply with some kind of posted trespassing warning sign. It’s also often used when someone asks you to leave, and you refuse to comply. This most commonly occurs during normal verbal arguments where one person is “kicked out” but continues to speak their piece or flat out refuses to leave. It’s also the most frequent charge for standing on railroad tracks or railroad owned property – the train companies own the land beneath the tracks and strictly enforce trespassing laws for safety reasons.


Second Degree Criminal Trespass


This usually occurs on any non-residential property. Refusing to leave or unlawfully entering businesses or property belonging to businesses is typically charged as Second Degree Criminal Trespass. This also encompasses fenced-off areas like construction sites.


First Degree Criminal Trespass


This is the most serious. This is trespassing that was knowingly committed from the beginning, meaning with the intention to violate the privacy of another person. If the place you’re trespassing in would be considered an important public service building or property, it’s always considered first degree trespassing.


If it was your intent to deface or burn religious iconography, such as a cross, this is also first degree trespassing. Arizona has specific laws about searching for minerals without a permit, so entering any area with the intent to look for minerals without that permit is also first degree trespassing.


What Are the Punishments For Criminal Trespassing?


The punishments for criminal trespass depend on what level of misdemeanor or felony the charge is classified as. For both felonies and misdemeanors, things are difficult to generalize.


The lowest level of Criminal Trespass is for Third Degree criminal trespass, which is treated as a class 3 misdemeanor. These usually involve probation and no more than 30 days in jail. The fines are up to $500, but they can often exceed that amount with surcharges. Criminal Trespass in the second degree is a class two misdemeanor, punishable by probation and up to four months in jail. The fines increase to $750, plus applicable surcharges.


Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors. These Criminal Trespass cases often involve looking into other people’s homes in an attempt to invade their privacy and illegal mining. Arizona takes mineral mining permits very seriously. Misdemeanors like these can come with probation, up to six months in jail, and a fine of $2,500 that can nearly double with surcharges.


First Degree criminal trespassing is a felony, and it’s slightly more complicated than misdemeanor trespassing. Unlawfully entering a place, especially if that place is a public service facility, is usually a felony trespassing charge. If the act was committed with any kind of dangerous intimidation, particularly cross burning, the trespass is automatically a felony.


First offenders can expect up to one year in jail or prison between four months to two years. These specifications are very nuanced and the circumstances of the crime are incredibly important. Prison time increases with each prior felony conviction. Second felonies can expect 9 months to 2.75 years, where third felonies can face anywhere between 2.25 and 5.75 years. If you’re facing a felony, you need to take it seriously.


How Do I Defend Myself Against Criminal Trespass Charges?


In order to be charged with trespassing, evidence of intent needs to be proven by the government. People accidentally trespass all the time. Kids and young adults will often ride skateboards or bicycles on private property without ever knowing there was a sign regarding trespassing. It’s up to the owner of the property to make that clear, and if it’s possible to spend time on that property without having seen the sign, that’s the best line of defense.


There is also the matter of the authority of the individual who told a defendant to leave. If you were visiting a friend and their significant other who does not live at the property told you to leave, you’re not legally obligated to listen to them. Ignoring their request was only impolite, which is much different from being criminal. You’re only required to vacate if someone with a legitimate claim over the property requests you to leave. The authority of the person who attempted to have you removed can be questioned.


When things aren’t that simple, you really need a lawyer to defend you. Cases can be modified or dismissed when your rights were in some way violated throughout the arrest or investigation. We know how to look for those violations and challenge the information we find. If you’re facing a serious felony, you need to work with someone who knows how to thoroughly pick apart a case.


I Need Help From A Lawyer


We understand how terrifying it can feel to be faced with either a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge. Both can have a damaging effect on your life. By calling us or using our contact form, you can request a free consultation with an experienced attorney who understands Arizona’s legal system. We can help you protect yourself against damaging criminal trespass charges. Time is of the essence. Contact us any time of day, any day of the week so we can get started on your case.