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The term “property crime” applies generally to many different types of acts which deal with depriving a person of his/her property, including shoplifting, criminal damage, burglary, theft, etc. Arizona law treats property crime very seriously and can impose penalties ranging from fines to serious prison time. Property crimes can be classified as a misdemeanor (e.g. shoplifting) to major felonies (e.g. residential burglary). Property crimes can be charged in both state and federal courts, depending on the circumstances.

If you, a loved one, or your business is threatened by a criminal charge or investigation, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is fully prepared to protect you and defend your rights. Every decision made during this process is critical to the overall outcome of the case, and an experienced attorney can offer careful advice on to how handle the situation. If you find yourself needing a criminal defense attorney, contact us to learn how we can help you protect your rights. Some of the issues affecting the rights of our clients that we frequently face include:


Under both federal and state law, a grand jury issues indictments. An experienced attorney can advise a person on how to handle a grand jury investigation.


The police may try to seize your property if they believe it was used in commission of a crime. Your legal counsel can assist in getting your property returned to you and preventing your property from being wrongfully forfeited to the government.


There are three degrees of criminal trespassing in Arizona, with First Degree Criminal Trespassing being the most severe. A.R.S. § 13-1502 describes Third Degree Criminal Trespassing as “knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property” after law enforcement and/or the property owner has asked you to leave, or if there is a posted notice that notifies the public that entry is prohibited. Third Degree Criminal Trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor, Second Degree is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and First Degree can be either a Class 6 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.


Chapter 17 of the Arizona Revised States (A.R.S.) defines the property crime of arson, generally. Arson is further broken down into categories under Arizona law such as:

  • Reckless Burning (A.R.S. § 13-1702)
  • Arson of a Structure (A.R.S. § 13-1703)
  • Arson of an Occupied Structure (A.R.S. § 13-1704)

Arson of an Occupied Structure can be charged as a “Dangerous Nature” offense and can carry the potential for severe prison terms.


Theft is covered by Chapter 18 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) and is one of the most common types of property crimes under Arizona law. Generally, the severity of the crime increases with the value of the property involved. For example, theft of property worth less than $1,000 is treated less severely than theft of property worth more than $1,000.


The United States and Arizona constitutions protect the people from unreasonable searches and seizures. If any evidence has been obtained during an illegal search, your lawyer must move quickly to suppress that evidence.


Any unfavorable decision made by a judge in error in a criminal case may be appealed to a higher court and can be reversed by the appellate court and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.


Like criminal trespassing, there are three degrees of burglary under Arizona law. A.R.S. § 13-1506 defines Third Degree Burglary as a Class 4 felony that involves entering private property with the intent or committing a theft and/or a felony thereupon. Third Degree Burglary is generally charged in cases where someone is accused of breaking into a vehicle and/or breaking into a business. A.R.S. § 13-1507 defines Second Degree Burglary as a Class 3 felony that involves entering a private residential property, such as a person’s house. A.R.S. § 13-1508 defines First Degree Burglary as burglary that is accompanied by the presence of a deadly weapon, such as a firearm. First Degree Burglary can be charged as a “Dangerous Nature” offense and can carry the potential for severe prison terms.


Criminal damage is what Arizona law calls vandalism and is outlined in A.R.S. § 13-1602. Criminal damage is defines as knowingly or intentionally defacing or damaging someone else’s property. As with theft, the severity of the crime increases with the value of the property involved. Criminal damage can include things like graffiti, but also is commonly charged in DUI accident cases involving damage to property (e.g., from a vehicular accient).

Property crimes are serious offenses and can result in severe penalties under Arizona law. If you or someone you love is facing a property crime case, you need to hire the best attorney could possible can. At the Law Office of Hernandez and Hamilton PC, we have the skill and expertise to give your case the kind of attention you deserve. Call today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Tucson, Arizona.