Burglary Definition in Arizona
Burglary, commonly known as breaking and entering, is a serious crime with harsh penalties. Rightly so, people want to feel safe in their house and business owners want to know their premises are secure. However, most people fail to look at the reasons why a person commits a burglary. This matters because without realizing someone’s motivations for committing such a horrible crime, we may be starting a cycle that only leads to more crime without ever dealing with the root if the issue.
As we said, the consequences of getting convicted of a burglary charge can be devastating and are based on the location burglarized and whether or not a weapon was involved.
First Degree Burglary
This occurs when a person possesses a deadly weapon, explosive, or other dangerous instrument during the burglary.
- Class 2 Felony: if it involves a residential property.
- Mandatory prison term of 7 to 21 years.
- Class 3 Felony: if it involves a non-residential property.
- Mandatory prison term of 5 to 15 years.
Second Degree Burglary
This occurs when a person unlawfully enters a residential property with the intent to commit theft.
- Class 3 Felony: minimum prison sentence of 2 years and maximum of 8.75 years.
Third Degree Burglary
This occurs when a person unlawfully enters a non-residential building or fenced in commercial or residential yard.
- Class 4 Felony: carries a prison term of 1 to 3.75 years.
Possession of a Burglary Tool
This occurs when a person is in possession of tools typically used to commit a burglary.
- Class 6 Felony: carries a prison term of 1/3 of a year to 2 years.
The Main Motivation
One thing overlooked in the aftermath of a burglary is why it was committed in the first place. Police and prosecutors are rarely interested in understanding the motivation of why someone commits a burglary, especially if they are sure they have the person who committed the crime.
A study done by the University of North Carolina Charlotte researcher Joseph Kuhns looks at why burglaries are committed. He found that the majority of people did it “to acquire drugs (51%) or money (37%), which was often used to support drug habits.”
This is an important finding and something that anyone who cares about the rights of the accused should pay attention to. It means that burglaries are a symptom of a larger problem.
A person who is addicted to drugs needs treatment more than they need punishment.
Out criminal justice system revolves around punishment and a common refrain is “the harsher the better.” What that is doing is creating a cycle. People who end up in the system for burglary never get treatment. They only get long prison sentences.
The goal of a skilled defense attorney is to help their client and one way to do that is to humanize them to the judge and jury. Drug addiction is a serious illness that can make people do things that they would not otherwise do.
Your Next Steps
If you have been charged with burglary or possession of a burglary tool, you need to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Because of the seriousness of these charges and the harsh penalties that accompany them, you do not want to rely on a public defender. A qualified and experienced attorney will sit with you and listen to your story. They will build a strong defense on your behalf in an effort to reduce the charges or get them thrown out altogether. A mistake does not have to define your life.
Click here for information on the difference between robbery, burglary and theft in Arizona.