The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on Arizona, forcing businesses to shut their doors, causing hundreds of thousands to lose their jobs, and creating an atmosphere of economic uncertainty across the state.
In light of these challenges, statewide crime rates have fluctuated over the past few months. Some crimes, like homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and vehicle theft have decreased significantly in cities like Tucson compared to this time last year.
Other crimes like public intoxication and burglary appear to be on the rise in Flagstaff, according to preliminary data. In Tempe, domestic violence, trespassing, and commercial burglary have all spiked in recent months, too.
If you find yourself charged with burglary during these extraordinary times, it’s important to understand the charges you’re up against and how the coronavirus pandemic may affect your case. Find out more about how to beat a burglary charge in Arizona from the criminal defense attorneys at Lerner and Rowe Law Group.
Is Burglary a Felony in Arizona?
There are three degrees of burglary charges, all of which are considered a felony. In addition, you may also be charged with possession of burglary tools, which is also a felony. Felonies are the most severe type of crime in Arizona and carry some of the most serious penalties and prison sentences.
How Long Can You Go to Jail for Burglary in Arizona?
Depending on which degree of burglary you are convicted of, sentences can vary significantly. Probation may be available, but significant prison time is possible. A breakdown of potential sentences can be found below.
Burglary in the First Degree
This charge occurs when the accused person possessed a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or explosive during the burglary. This is a class 2 felony if committed in a residential structure or a class 3 felony if committed in a nonresidential structure or residential yard. A first degree burglary conviction carries a sentence of anywhere from 2 to 12.5 years in prison.
Burglary in the Second Degree
A second degree burglary charge occurs when the accused entered or remained unlawfully in a residential structure with the intent to commit theft or another felony. This is a class 3 felony carrying a possible prison sentence of anywhere from 2 to 8.75 years.
Burglary in the Third Degree
Third degree burglary is defined as entering or remaining unlawfully in a nonresidential structure or fenced yard with the intent to commit theft or a felony. It may also refer to the act of gaining entry or breaking into any part of a vehicle with a master key or manipulation key with the intent to commit theft or a felony. This is a class 4 felony with a possible sentence of 1 to 3.75 years imprisonment.
Possession of Burglary Tools
The lesser felony of possession of burglary tools refers to any individual who has in their possession any explosive, tool, instrument, or any other article that is commonly used to commit burglary with the intent to use said tools for this purpose.
It may also refer to the purchase, sale, or transference of a motor vehicle manipulation key or master key. This is considered a class 6 felony, which carries a sentence of anywhere between 4 months to 3.75 years in prison.
How to Beat a Burglary Charge in Arizona
Burglary is a major criminal charge that should be taken seriously. Fortunately, having an experienced burglary defense lawyer on your side can make a huge impact on your case.
There are several key strategies that can be used in order to have a burglary charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. When you consult with an attorney, they will assess all the facts in your case carefully to determine the best defensive tactics for the charges brought against you.
Lack of Intent
Commonly, proving a lack of intent is the most effective way to beat a burglary charge. A burglary conviction rests on the ability of the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused intended to commit theft or another felony while in the residential or nonresidential structure or yard.
Mistake of Fact
Another strategy to reduce or dismiss the charge entirely may be in arguing that the defendant mistakenly trespassed onto the premises, whether due to unfamiliarity with the location or various other factors. This is referred to as a mistake of fact defense.
Where to Get Legal Help
If you’ve been charged with burglary in Arizona, securing the help of a criminal lawyer quickly is crucial. Criminal courts are still open, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re wondering how to beat a burglary charge in the midst of these trying economic times, keep in mind that Lerner and Rowe Law Group offers affordable payment plans to all our clients in addition to a free consultation to review your case.
To schedule your complimentary and confidential consultation, contact one of our conveniently located offices at the numbers listed below. You can also talk to a representative online using our LiveChat service or send us the details of your case now to get started.