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Arizona Court Determines That a Filing Cabinet Is a “Nonresidential Structure” in Recent Burglary Case

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona burglary case in which the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence that was used to convict him. However, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for burglary on the basis that the two-drawer filing cabinet he was seen peering into was a “nonresidential structure.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, a man received a notification on his cell phone that something triggered his home’s motion sensor. The man grabbed his gun and went outside to check around his property. Once the man got outside, he evidently saw the defendant holding a flashlight looking in a two-drawer filing cabinet that the man kept alongside his garage. The man told the defendant to stop, and the defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with burglary.

Burglary in Arizona

In Arizona, section 13-1508 defines burglary in the first degree as “entering … a nonresidential structure … with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein” while possessing a weapon. The term nonresidential structure is defined in section 13-1501 as “any structure other than a residential structure and includes a retail establishment.” Section 13-1501 also defines the term “structure” as an “object… 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.”

The Defendant’s Argument

The defendant argued that the filing cabinet was not a “nonresidential structure” under section 13-1501, and therefore he could not be found guilty of burglary. The defendant’s main argument was that the filing cabinet was too small to be considered a structure. He argued that if the court considered the filing cabinet a structure, then anything that can be locked and is large enough to store any other object would be considered a structure. This, the defendant argued, could lead to absurd results.

The court disagreed, holding that the filing cabinet fit within the definition of a nonresidential structure. The court acknowledged that the “applying the statutory definition of a nonresidential structure could lead to an absurd result at some point,” that was not the case here. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

Have You Been Charged with an Arizona Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a crime, you should consult with Attorney James E. Novak to discuss your case. Attorney Novak is a preeminent Arizona criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling a wide range of complex and unique cases, including Arizona burglary crimes. In addition to understanding the substantive legal principles that apply to his clients’ cases, Attorney Novak is a skilled negotiator and litigator, and will not hesitate to take your case to trial and beyond if the prosecution is unwilling to drop unreasonable charges or offer a fair plea agreement. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Resources:

Other Articles of Interest from The Law Office of James Novak’s Award Winning Blog:

Arizona Court Concludes Defendant’s Statement Made During Border-Crossing Stop Was Not Suppressible, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, December 19, 2018

Court Finds Defendant Was Not Seized Although Police Boxed in Defendant’s Car, Preventing Him from Leaving, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, November 6, 2018

Court Holds the Smell of Marijuana Still Gives Rise to the Probable Cause to Search, Despite Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Statute, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, November 20, 2018