In Arizona, property owners have the right to be free from theft, vandalism, trespassers and other property-related crimes. If a property owner believes that you committed a crime against his or her premises, vehicle or owned possessions, you may receive a criminal charge or get arrested for an alleged property crime. The penalties that you might face – and your available defense options – will depend on the type of property crime involved in the accusation.
Being accused of theft or thievery means that someone believes you stole something belonging to him or her. State law (Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1802) defines theft as knowingly and without lawful authority controlling or converting the property of another person with the intent to deprive the owner of such property.
Theft can refer to using someone else’s property without permission, obtaining the services or property of someone else through means of a material misrepresentation, stealing a car, coming in possession of lost property and withholding it from the true owner, committing organized theft, stealing through extortion, shoplifting, and many other examples of depriving someone of something that he or she lawfully owns.
Burglary is a felony crime in Arizona that refers to unlawfully entering a property or structure with the intent to commit a crime. The crime in question does not have to be theft or stealing. It can also refer to entering someone’s property without permission for the purpose of vandalism, stalking, assault or other crimes. Burglary also does not have to involve the use of force or fear. Even if no one is home, breaking and entering a property with intent to commit a crime constitutes burglary.
Vandalism (Criminal Damage)
Vandalism, known as criminal damage in Arizona, is the crime of damaging, destroying, defacing, altering the appearance of or desecrating the property of another person. These crimes can be reckless or intentional. Criminal damage can refer to actions such as:
- Graffitiing or spray-painting the surface of a structure with a message, slogan or tag;
- Damaging the property of a utility;
- Tampering with someone else’s property in a way that substantially impairs its function or value;
- Desecrating a church or burial ground; or
- Parking a vehicle in a place that deprives livestock of access to water
…in addition to many other examples of property damage and vandalism. Criminal damage crimes are punished harshly in Arizona to discourage others in the community from future such acts of vandalism. A vandalism defense attorney in Phoenix can help you explore your legal options if you’ve been charged with such a crime.
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-1504, a person commits criminal trespassing if he or she knowingly enters and unlawfully remains in or on a residential structure, fenced residential yard, real property or public service facility. Trespassing does not have to involve intent to commit another crime while on the property for an individual to face charges. Trespassing can simply refer to entering a property without the owner’s permission or legal authorization.
The definition of arson (Arizona Revised Statute 13-1703) is to knowingly cause a fire or explosion with the intent to unlawfully damage a structure or property. Arson is a serious property crime that is classified as a class 4 felony in Arizona if the damaged property had a value of over $1,000. Arson can potentially cause serious bodily injuries, which leads most judges to penalize this crime harshly.
Consequences of Property Crimes in Arizona
The penalties associated with a property crime in Arizona vary according to the type of charge(s) entered against a defendant. For a misdemeanor property crime, the sentence may include a fine and paying the victim restitution for property losses. For a felony property crime, such as aggravated vandalism, the sentence will be elevated. Felony sentences typically include mandatory jail or prison time in addition to fines, probation, community service and other punishments.
If you have been arrested for any type of alleged property crime in Arizona, contact AZ Defenders right away for a free initial consultation with a criminal defense lawyer near you.
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