If you’ve been charged with burglary in the state of Arizona, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Even though burglary is considered a property crime, Arizona takes this type of intrusion on personal property seriously. If you’re in Phoenix, contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C., to discuss your burglary case.
How is Burglary in Arizona Defined?
Under Arizona criminal code 13-1506, third-degree burglary is defined as:
- Entering or remaining in a nonresidential structure or in a fenced commercial or residential yard with the intent to commit theft or a felony.
- Making an entry into any part of a motor vehicle by means of a manipulation or master key with the intent to commit theft or a felony in that vehicle.
More serious classifications for burglary still have this element: the act of entering or remaining in a structure, compound, or vehicle with the intent to commit theft or another felony crime. It’s important to note that theft or other felony crime can be charged separately if the defendant actually carries them out in addition to the burglary offense.
Classification of Burglary Offenses
Burglaries in Arizona have three classifications or degrees:
As was discussed in the previous section, third-degree burglary is the minimum form of burglary because it involves entering a nonresidential property, an unoccupied vehicle, or a fenced property. It is a class-4 felony crime.
Like burglaries of the third degree, a second-degree burglary involves entering or remaining in a premise with the intent to commit a crime, but in this case, the structure is a residence. This is a class-4 felony.
A first-degree burglary, also known as aggravated burglary, is a third-degree or second-degree burglary where the defendant arms themselves with a weapon. This is a class-3 felony if the premises is a nonresidential property and a class-2 felony if it occurs on a residential property.
All criminal charges related to a burglary in Arizona are serious crimes. If you’ve been charged with any level of burglary, you need a top-tier criminal defense lawyer to avoid a burglary conviction.
Crimes Related to Burglary
Many people who have been charged with a burglary crime in Phoenix read the above-listed statutes and interpret them to mean that they must have committed another felony crime to be charged with burglary. While the police often charge burglary in conjunction with another crime, it is not necessarily required. They must show that the defendant had entered the property or residence with the intent to commit a felony.
With that said, here are some of the common offenses that our criminal defense firm frequently sees charged alongside burglary:
- Theft offenses, including grand theft auto
- Homicide and attempted homicide
- Violation of an injunction
Many of these charges have much more serious consequences than the burglary charge. An experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to defend you against all of the charges against you, no matter how serious they are.
Penalties for Burglary Crimes
The following Arizona penalties are for burglary crimes only. Other felonies committed along with the act of burglary have additional penalties.
- Class 4 Felony – From 1 year to 3.75 years in state prison.
- Class 3 Felony – From 2 years to 8.75 years in state prison.
- Class 2 Felony – From 3 years to 12.5 years in state prison.
Additionally, you could be forced to pay fines or serve part of your sentence on probation or under house arrest. You will also be a convicted felon, which can affect your right to vote or own a gun. It will also appear on background checks and could prevent you from finding gainful employment.
At Hernandez & Hamilton, a Phoenix criminal defense attorney will evaluate your case and your maximum exposure to prison. We can then build a defense designed to keep you from going to jail.
Burglary Defense Strategies
There are several effective strategies that criminal defense lawyers can use to fight a burglary charge. All cases are different, of course, so you will need to discuss the facts of your case with your attorney.
You have the right not to answer police questions about whether or not you committed burglary. In most cases, it’s not in your best interest to talk to the police, but sometimes they will be insistent and even menacing. This is known as coercion, and if it happened, your confession should be inadmissible.
The police must have a valid, legal reason to stop you. They cannot merely say that you appeared to be suspicious without articulating what they believed made you suspicious. A valid reason could be that you matched a witness’s description. In the absence of a valid, articulable reason for a stop, any evidence that they obtained is inadmissible.
Police will often attempt to locate the fruits of the crime to substantiate their burglary charges. However, law enforcement can’t search you, your vehicle, or your home without consent, a search warrant, or a warrant exception. Items found during an illegal search are not admissible.
Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. Oftentimes, witnesses will mistakenly make a positive ID during a showup, in a lineup, or in a photo lineup. As time goes by, they become less certain about the positive ID. If the witness admits an error in the identification phase, the prosecutorial case may be in jeopardy.
How do I establish a good defense strategy in my case?
Your criminal defense lawyer will be charged with finding the best strategy for your burglary case. If you retain Hernandez & Hamilton, our team will review every piece of evidence against you before determining the defense strategy. Contact our defense law firm in Phoenix to discuss the charges against you.
Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyers Defending Burglary Charges
For years, the attorneys at the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C. have been fighting for the rights of the accused. If you’ve been charged with burglary in the Phoenix area, you need to take the matter seriously. You could be facing a lengthy term in prison and the loss of various rights.
Our legal team can construct a solid defense strategy on your behalf. Unlike public defenders, we manage our own caseloads, which means that we are not under pressure to accept an undesirable plea deal. If we believe that accepting a negotiated plea is in your best interest, you will have the final say.
For aggressive, diligent defense for your burglary charges, contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C. today. Time is of the essence.