Is Criminal Trespassing a Felony in Arizona?

trespassing in arizona -- private property no trespassing sign

Is Criminal Trespassing a Felony in Arizona?

Most people know that entering the home of a person they do not know without their permission is a crime. However, did you know that stepping onto their property without their knowledge can also get you into legal trouble? Arizona takes trespassing very seriously, and depending on your crime, it can even mean a felony charge on your record. Let’s take a closer look at the laws regarding trespassing in Arizona. 

What counts as trespassing in Arizona? 

Legally, trespassing occurs when a person knowingly enters another person’s land or property without their permission. Examples of trespassing include: 

  • Entering a home or a non-public building without the owner’s knowledge
  • Sitting inside a person’s car without them granting permission
  • Jumping the fence of farmland or any property owned by another person to walk across it

Trespassing can still occur if someone does not realize at first that they are on someone else’s property if they refuse to leave when asked. For example, a camper sets up their tent in a wooded area they believe is not personal property. The next morning, the owner of the property comes by and informs them that they need to leave. If the camper refuses to move, the police can arrest them for criminal trespassing. 

What are the penalties for criminal trespassing? 

There are three Arizona trespass laws, and each has different penalty levels. Two of these laws carry misdemeanor penalties, and one can result in felony charges

Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree

Under Arizona statute ARS 13-1502, a person may be found guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree if they knowingly enter or remain on another person’s property after they’ve been asked to leave by the owner or a police officer. This statute also covers anyone knowingly entering or remaining on property owned by a railroad, including switching yards and storage areas. 

A guilty verdict under ARS 13-1502 is a class 3 misdemeanor, with potential penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. 

Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree

ARS 13-1503 covers criminal trespass in the second degree. A person may be found guilty of this charge if they knowingly enter or linger in a non-residential building or fenced commercial yard. ARS 13-1503 is a greater crime than ARS 13-1502 because it involves a commercial building or property. 

Crimes under ARS 13-1503 are a class 2 misdemeanor. Second-degree criminal trespass penalties include up to four months in jail and a maximum fine of $750. 

Criminal Trespass in the First Degree

Under ARS 13-1504, a person found guilty of first degree criminal trespass faces charges ranging from a class 1 misdemeanor with up to six months in jail, to a class 5 felony with up to four years behind bars in state prison. Charges and penalties depend on the severity of the crime. 

Under Arizona law, a person commits first degree criminal trespassing if they: 

  • Unlawfully enter or stay in or around a residential building (a home or fenced residential yard)
  • Go into a person’s residential yard without permission and peer into the home, infringing the inhabitant’s privacy rights
  • Begin mining in an area they do not own or have the legal right to occupy
  • Enter or linger in a “critical public service facility,” such as a high voltage area used by mass transit, a natural gas company, or a fire department
  • Set foot in a religious building without permission and damage or deface religious symbols 

Understanding Arizona Trespass Laws

At first glance, trespassing may not seem like that bad of a crime. But depending on the situation, it can quickly escalate to felony charges that can impact a person for the rest of their life. If you find yourself facing potential criminal trespassing charges, you need a lawyer who fully understands Arizona trespassing laws at your side. 

Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of experience working as a certified criminal law specialist in the state of Arizona. For an appointment in Phoenix, call 602-795-0770, or call 480-264-5111 for a consultation in Chandler. 

Photo by Gene Gallin on Unsplash