What is Trespassing in the 3rd Degree in Arizona?

Criminal trespass in the 3rd degree is a commonly charged misdemeanor crime in Arizona. Charges for misdemeanor trespassing often arise when a person is told to leave a business (such as a bar or casino) or a residence and they refuse. If the police are called in these situations, this may result in a third-degree trespassing citation under ARS 13-1502.

Although third degree trespass is only a class 3 misdemeanor (the least serious criminal offense), being found guilty of the crime will still result in a conviction on a person’s criminal record. This can have consequences beyond the mere statutory penalties for the offense–such as reporting requirements for licensing boards and job applications.

A.R.S. § 13-1502 Defined

ARS 13-1502 is the Arizona law that defines criminal trespass in the third degree.

According to this statute, “a person commits criminal trespass in the third degree by:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on any real property after a reasonable request to leave by a law enforcement officer, the owner or any other person having lawful control over such property, or reasonable notice prohibiting entry.
  • Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully on the right-of-way for tracks, or the storage or switching yard or rolling stock of a railroad company.

Criminal trespass in the third degree is a class 3 misdemeanor.

This crime can arise in a variety of ways. The most common way for a person to be charged with third-degree criminal trespass is if the person is invited onto a property (it can a commercial property like a store, or it can a residential property like an apartment or house). This invitation can be explicit (such as if a friend invites you to a party or over for dinner) or it can be implicit (such as a shop that holds out a general invitation to people to come in to look around and buy things).

At some point the invitation can be revoked, such as if the owner of the property asks you to leave. At that point, if you refuse to leave the property, it may be considered a criminal trespass. The request to leave must be “reasonable” and the request must be given by the person who owns the property or a person having “lawful control” of the property (such as a store manager).

Walking onto the light-rail tracks in the Phoenix-metropolitan area also count as violations of this statute, and a person can be sited for trespassing on light rail.

Penalties for Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree

The possible punishment for third-degree criminal trespass is:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 1 year of probation

Defenses to Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree

  • Lack of Intent: Criminal trespass in the third degree requires the state to show that a defendant “knowingly” entered or remained on property after receiving a request to leave. A variety of circumstances might negate the required intent.

Example: A person is told to leave Talking Stick Casino by casino security guards. The person agrees to leave but is intoxicated and has difficulty finding the exit before police arrive and arrest him for criminal trespassing in the third degree. It is questionable whether the person “knowingly” remained on the casino premises, because he was already attempting to leave. So the State will have difficulty proving the necessary intent.

  • No “reasonable notice”: This level of trespass also requires that a person receive a reasonable request to leave or reasonable notice prohibiting entry. If a property is not fenced in and there is no sign prohibiting entry onto the property, then the State will not be able to prove that there is reasonable notice that allows from a trespassing prosecution. Even if there is a sign posted somewhere on the property prohibiting entry, it may be debatable whether that notice is “reasonable” depending on where it is placed on the property and whether it gives fair warning. A notice that is placed on one part of the property but is not visible on another part of the property where the entry was made would likely not give enough notice to allow for a prosecution under this crime.

How Salwin Law Can Help You

If you’ve been charged with criminal trespass in the third degree, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you figure out your options. Salwin Law offers a free consultation on property crime charges, and together we can help you figure out ways to minimize the effect these charges will have on your life.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLCtoday at (480) 702-1789, or contact us online to make your appointment.