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When a person commits criminal damage in Arizona, they are basically committing a crime against public or private property. Although it may not seem like property damage could come with steep penalties, these charges have the potential to result in steep fines and even prison time. If you have been charged with ARS criminal damage in Arizona, you need a seasoned criminal defense attorney in Phoenix.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we dedicate ourselves to defending those accused of serious crimes, such as criminal damage, disorderly conduct, probation violations, and much more. If you or someone you know has been charged with criminally damaging property, contact the experienced defense attorneys at YMLG. To schedule your consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today, or fill out our online intake form.
What Is Criminal Damage in Arizona?
According to Arizona law, criminal damage involves defacing, tampering with, or recklessly damaging property that belongs to someone else. This damage could be to a public or private building, a utility property, or other forms of property. One of the most important elements of criminal damage involves recklessness, meaning someone is aware of the danger of their actions without regarding the potential consequences. In particular, the consequences of their actions create a substantial and unjustifiable risk to property.
Examples of Criminal Damage to Property
It’s important to understand some specific examples of what qualifies as criminal damage. Arizona criminal damage charges can be sought in any of the following cases.
- Someone knowingly does something that damages another person’s property
- Damaging property by recklessly acting in such a manner that causes an explosion or fire that damages property
- Knowingly injuring a pet that belongs to someone else
- Parking a car in a way that blocks livestock’s access to water
- Spraying graffiti on a building
There are many other forms and examples of criminal damage to property. The language of ARS 13-1602 is fairly vague, meaning that many different actions could qualify as criminal damage.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1602 outlines the definition of criminal damage. The law states that:
“A person commits criminal damage by:
- Recklessly defacing or damaging property of another person.
- Recklessly tampering with property of another person so as substantially to impair its function or value.
- Recklessly damaging property of a utility.
- Recklessly parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock of access to the only reasonably available water.
- Recklessly drawing or inscribing a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building, structure or surface, except the ground, and that is made without permission of the owner.
- Intentionally tampering with utility property.”
It can be difficult to understand the full scope of what qualifies as Arizona criminal damage. If you are facing these charges, we recommend speaking with an experienced criminal damage defense lawyer.
How Does Arizona Calculate the Dollar Amount of Damage?
The penalties and classifications for criminal damage charges largely depend on the dollar amount of damage done to the property. Three primary factors are taken into consideration when calculating the amount of damage done.
- Reasonable labor costs to repair the damage
- Reasonable material costs to repair the damage
- Costs of equipment to repair the damage
Penalties for Criminal Damage in Arizona
As we stated previously, classifications and penalties associated with criminal damage in Arizona are tied to the dollar amount of damage done to property. Therefore, the higher the dollar amount of damage done, the harsher the penalties. Below, we outline the charges and penalties one might face depending on the dollar amount of damage done.
- Under $250: Class 2 misdemeanor with up to four months in jail
- $250 – $1,000: Class 1 misdemeanor with up to six months in jail
- $1,000 – $2,000: Class 6 felony with up to one year in either jail or prison
- $2,000 – $10,000: Class 5 felony with up to 1.5 years in either jail or prison
- Over $10,000: Class 4 felony with up to 2.5 years in prison
- $5,000 or more in intentional damage of property of a utility: Class 4 felony with up to 2.5 years in prison. This is also considered an aggravated criminal damage charge.
Aggravated criminal damage charges, according to ARS 13-1604, can arise in the following situations.
- Damaging or defacing a property used for religious purposes or worship.
- Defacing or damaging a place used as an educational facility or school.
- Damaging or defacing a mortuary, cemetery, or another place used for burial or for the dead.
- Damaging or defacing utilities or agricultural properties, or construction sites and existing structures.
Keep in mind that criminal damage as a charge is what we call a “wobbler.” This means that it could be either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the specifics of the case.
ARS 13-1602 clearly outlines the misdemeanor criminal damage penalties are as follows.
- Class 1 misdemeanor: Damages from $250 to $1000
- Class 2 misdemeanor: Damages up to $250, property damage of a utility, or drawing a slogan, sign, or symbol on any public or private building when the repair cost is under $250.
ARS 13-1602 clearly outlines the felony criminal damage penalties as follows.
- Class 4 felony: Damages over $10,000, or more than $5,000 in damages to a utility, or intentionally tampering with a utility that results in an imminent safety hazard to someone.
- Class 5 felony: Damages over $2,000 but under $10,000, or damages to a property with the intent to intimidate someone that promotes or helps a criminal street gang.
- Class 6 felony: Damages over $1,000 but under $2,000.
What Are Defenses to Charges Under ARS 13-1602?
You have the legal right to defend yourself against misdemeanor or felony criminal damage charges. The criminal defense lawyers at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group are here to help you gather evidence to build a strong defense for your case. It is extremely important to work with an attorney with significant experience, as criminal damage is a “wobbler” offense. This means that you could very easily be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Below, we list some of the most common defenses to ARS criminal damage charges.
As we mentioned previously, recklessness is one of the requirements in order for you to be convicted of criminal damage in Arizona. The prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted recklessly when the property was damaged. In order to show this, they will need to prove that you understood and disregarded a substantial risk that property damage would occur, and that the risk was not justifiable.
Sometimes, accidents happen that result in property damage, even when no reckless actions occurred. Even if you take all reasonable precautions in whatever you do, it is still possible to accidentally damage the property of another person. Damage alone does not make a criminal charge. Our attorneys will work to gather evidence that shows you did not act recklessly when the property was damaged.
You can also make the argument that, even if you acted recklessly, you did not cause any property damage. Criminal damage requires some form of damaged property. Therefore, if there is none, even if a person acts recklessly, they cannot be charged with criminal damage. If you fear that you may be wrongfully convicted of criminal damage, contact the wrongful conviction lawyers at YMLG as soon as possible.
In some cases, property damage may be necessary in the event of an emergency. This means that the damage was a necessity and they had no other choice. Work with your attorney to gather evidence that proves you only damaged the property out of necessity, not out of recklessness.
Crimes Related to Criminal Damage in Arizona
Sometimes, certain crimes are often seen charged along with other crimes. We call these “related crimes.” For example, during the course of a burglary, an individual could face charges for both burglary and trespassing. We often see the following charges coupled with criminal damage charges.
- Trespassing (such as causing property damage while unlawfully remaining on another’s property)
- Hit and run (such as getting into a car accident and fleeing the scene)
- Harassment (such as defacing someone’s property with alarming or threatening language or images)
Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges for criminal damage in Arizona, you need a qualified Phoenix criminal defense attorney. At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our attorneys are both compassionate toward our clients while being aggressive in court. We ensure that your needs are met while we craft a strong defense on your behalf. Facing charges under the criminal damage statute in Arizona can feel intimidating. That’s why we’re here to help. To schedule your consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.
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