Arizona Burglary Laws

The crime of burglary is frequently glamorized by Hollywood films with portrayals of masked bandits scaling the walls of a museum or breaking into an impenetrable vault in someone’s home. In real life, the circumstances of most burglaries are more straightforward. All that’s required for an Arizona burglary conviction is the unlawful entry onto a property with the intent to commit a theft or felony.

It can come as quite a shock to defendants that Arizona burglary laws cover such a wide range of conduct. Gone are the old requirements that a defendant must break into a dwelling house at night. Now, a burglary can occur when you can walk through an open door, during the day. Let’s take a closer look at how these laws work.

Overview of Arizona Burglary Laws

Below, you will find key provisions of Arizona’s burglary laws.

Arizona Statutes

Statutory Definitions

  • Structure: Any vending machine or any building, object, vehicle, railroad car or place with sides and a floor that is separately securable from any other structure attached to it and that is used for lodging, business, transportation, recreation or storage.
  • Entry: Intrusion of any part of any instrument or any part of a person's body inside the external boundaries of a structure or unit of real property.
  • Residential structure: Any structure, movable or immovable, permanent or temporary, that is adapted for both human residence and lodging whether occupied or not.

Burglary Classifications and Sentences

  • Burglary in the First Degree (Residential)
    • Class 2 Felony
    • Minimum 7 years in prison / Maximum 21 years
  • Burglary in the First Degree (Commercial)
    • Class 3 Felony
    • Minimum 2 years/ Max 7 years in prison
  • Burglary in the Second Degree
    • Class 3 Felony
    • Minimum 2 years/ Maximum 8.75 years in prison
    • Sentencing varies based on violent/nonviolent offense
  • Burglary in the Third Degree
    • Class 4 Felony
    • Minimum 1 year/ Maximum 3.75 years in prison
  • Possession of Burglary Tool
    • Class 6 Felony
    • Minimum 4 months /Maximum 2 years

Defenses

  • Permission to Enter
  • Building was not a “structure” under the legal definition
  • Lack of Intent
  • Coercion

Note: State laws are always subject to change. It’s important to verify the laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Arizona criminal defense attorney.

Burglary Law in Arizona

Arizona divides its burglary law into three code sections that vary in both severity, with first degree burglary being the most serious offense. The facts of the case will determine the felony “class” the crime falls into.

Class 1 Burglary: This crime requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of ALL of the following:

  • Defendant or an accomplice entered or remained unlawfully in a residential or non-residential structure, or on a fenced commercial or residential yard;
  • Defendant or an accomplice intended to commit any theft or felony while on the property;
  • At some point between the time of entry through leaving the scene the scene, the defendant or accomplice knowingly possessed explosives, a deadly weapon, a firearm, a dangerous instrument.

Class 2 Burglary: This crime requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant did ALL of the following:

  • Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residential structure
  • Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony

Class 3 Burglary: This crime requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant did ALL of the following:

  • Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a non-residential structure or fenced yard, or entered into any part of a vehicle by use of a manipulation
  • Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony

Possession of Burglary Tools

You don’t have to commit burglary to be charged with the class 6 felony of possession of burglary tools. The only requirement is for you to possess the tools that are typically used in burglary. This can include possessing any explosive, tool, instrument or other article adapted or commonly used for committing any form of burglary.

If the charge is coupled with another burglary charge, the penalty is harsher. The penalty for possession of burglary tools is nearly 6 years in prison. Restitution, property forfeiture, fees, fines, and other penalties may be imposed.

Burglary Sentences and Penalties

Each felony classification for burglary has a minimum and maximum sentencing range. The class of felony is determined by the type of place burglarized. A burglary of a non-residential structure or fenced commercial yard or fenced residential yard is a class 3 felony. The burglary of a residential structure is a class 2 felony.

Arizona law considers burglary a “serious offense” in its sentencing guidelines. , such as when the structure was occupied at the time the crime was committed. In addition to the classification of the felony, other issues impacting where a sentence falls within the minimum/maximum range depends on aggravating factors, such as:

  • Use of a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime.
  • Presence of an accomplice.
  • Injury to victims
  • Prior criminal history

Research the Law

If you have additional questions about burglary charges and Arizona laws, review the following links:

Related Resources

Receive a Free Review of Your Burglary Case

Burglary is a complex crime with stiff penalties for those convicted. Fortunately, being accused of a crime does not mean you will be found guilty. The prosecution has the burden to prove that you entered a property without consent with the intent to theft or felony. If you're dealing with a criminal matter, it's in your best interest to receive a free case review from a local attorney to learn more about how the law applies in your case.

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