In Arizona, it’s against the law to damage another person’s property. This type of conviction is known as criminal damage and can result in prison or jail time, fines, and other consequences such as paying to repair the damaged property. Often, a criminal damage offense is charged along with other offenses, such as theft.
How Is Criminal Damage Defined Under Arizona Law?
Criminal damage under Arizona law is classified in different degrees depending on the property type and lost property value. A person can be charged with criminal damage under Arizona code 13-1602 for any of the following offenses:
Defacing or damaging personal property
Damaging property used for worship or religion, a school building or other educational facility, a cemetery or mortuary
Tampering with a construction, utility, or agricultural site with the purpose of taking metals
Tampering with property in a way that substantially impairs its function or value
Parking a vehicle in a way that blocks livestock’s access to water
Intentionally tampering with utility property
Almost all types of criminal damage involve reckless conduct, which is defined by the state of Arizona that the accused person was aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk which constituted a gross deviation from a reasonable standard of conduct.
What Are The Penalties For Criminal Damage In Arizona?
The penalty for criminal damage in Arizona depends upon whether the conviction is a misdemeanor or a felony, what type of property was damaged, and the financial value of the property damage. Some situations are considered aggravated criminal damage and entail higher penalties.
The factors that are used to determine the financial value of any property damage are the cost of the labor, materials, and equipment needed to repair the damage. The higher the property value, the more severe the penalty becomes.
If the damaged property is valued at:
Less than $250, a Class 2 misdemeanor, up to four months in jail
$250 to $1,000, a Class 1 misdemeanor, up to six months in jail
$1,000 to $2,000, a Class 6 felony up to one year in jail or prison
$2,000 to $10,000, a Class 5 felony, up to 18 months in jail or prison
More than $10,000, a Class 4 felony, up to 2.5 years in prison
$5,000 or more for intentional damage to a utility, a Class 4 felony and also considered aggravated criminal damage, up to 2.5 years in prison
Telling The Difference Between Misdemeanor & Felony Charges
Criminal damage may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. These charges are generally classified by the extent of the damage according to the cost to repair or replace the damaged items. However, certain types of criminal damage will always be prosecuted as a felony regardless of the property’s value:
Damaging property used for worship or religion
Damaging a school building or educational facility
Damaging property at a cemetery or mortuary
Damaging or tampering with a construction, utility, or agricultural site with the purpose of taking metals
Other Crimes Related To Criminal Damage
In many situations, a person can be charged with corresponding crimes to criminal damage, which may include larceny, burglary, assault, and battery. If you’ve been accused of criminal damage or any of these related charges, an experienced Arizona defense attorney can provide representation and protect your rights.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Defend You In a Criminal Damage Case
Never try to defend yourself against criminal defense charges. A skilled and assertive criminal defense lawyer is necessary to keep your penalties to a minimum and to protect your constitutional rights. Depending upon the details of the alleged crimes and charges, an Arizona criminal defense attorney can utilize a variety of ways to defend your case.
Lack of criminal act: Sometimes, charges are fabricated or exaggerated, especially in situations such as domestic violence, where there tends to be a variety of complicated motives. Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse frequently contribute to false or inflated accusations.
Lack of criminal intent: In order to be convicted of criminal damage, a person must have intentionally or recklessly caused the damage. At a minimum, the person who is being charged must have acted recklessly, which is defined in the Arizona state code as a gross deviation from the standard of how a reasonable person would have acted in the same situation. Accidental acts are not included in criminal damage cases.
Value of the damage: Most of the time, the State will attempt to prosecute the defendant with the most severe criminal damage allegation. However, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the extent of the damage and demonstrate the method used to calculate the amount of property damage for which the defendant is being prosecuted. In many situations, a Mesa criminal defense attorney can present evidence of a more reasonable calculation of damage, which can reduce both the conviction and applicable penalties.
Permission: In criminal damage cases, the State must prove that the defendant lacked permission to damage the property. In acts of anger or violence, lack of permission can be inferred, but the State must still establish that the victim did not give permission and the alleged victim must also testify that the defendant did not have permission to damage the property. For example, a property owner could not ask the defendant to break open a safe and then sue for criminal damages.
Constitutional violations: A criminal defense attorney can raise issues such as right to counsel, Miranda laws, unlawful search and seizure, lack of probable cause, and lack of reasonable suspicion, which can reduce charges or even lead to a case being thrown out.
This blog post is courtesy of VS Criminal Defense Attorney, a top-rated criminal defense firm in Arizona. Their lead attorney, Michelle Skura, is renowned by the National Trial Lawyers as a Top 40 under 40 Criminal Defense Attorney.
This blog is purely for marketing purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.