CRIMINAL DAMAGE

In Arizona criminal damage can take many forms. Some forms of criminal damage such as damaging a public utility or blocking livestock from water are quite rare. However, general criminal damage to property or criminal damage domestic violence are very common charges in Arizona and carry harsh consequences, if convicted. In order to avoid unnecessary punishment for criminal damage it is necessary to investigate all possible defenses and utilize the experience of an effective criminal damage lawyer.

Criminal Damage to Property

Criminal Damage to Property ­– A.R.S. § 13-1602

In Arizona, a person commits criminal damage to property, if they recklessly:

  1. Damage property of another; or
  2. Tamper with property of another which impairs its function or value; or
  3. Draw a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building; or
  4. Damage a utility; or
  5. Park a vehicle to deprive livestock from water; or
  6. Intentionally, tamper with utility property.

Misdemeanor Criminal Damage to Property

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1602, criminal damage is a misdemeanor if a person recklessly:

  • Damages property in an amount of more than $250 but less than $1,000 – Class 1 Misdemeanor; or
  • Damages property in an amount less than $250 – Class 2 Misdemeanor; or
  • Damages property of a utility company – Class 2 Misdemeanor;
  • Draws a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building (provide the cost to repair is less than $250) – Class 2 Misdemeanor.

Felony Criminal Damage to Property

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1602, felony criminal damage occurs if a person:

  • Recklessly damages property in an amount of more than $10,000 – Class 4 Felony;
  • Recklessly damages property of a utility in an amount of more than $5,000 – Class 4 Felony;
  • Intentionally tampers with utility property and it causes a safety hazard to any person – Class 4 Felony;
  • Recklessly damages property in an amount of more than $2,000 but less than $10,000 – Class 5 Felony;
  • Recklessly damages property to promote, further or assist any criminal street gang with the intent to intimidate another person – Class 5 Felony;
  • Recklessly damages property in an amount of more than $1,000 but less than $2,000 – Class 6 Felony.

Punishment for Criminal Damage – ­Misdemeanor

The punishment for criminal damage to property as a misdemeanor can range based on the facts of your case, the prosecuting agency, what store the items were stolen from and your judge. For the best evaluation of the penalties you are likely to face, contact an experienced criminal damage lawyer in Arizona.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Maximum Penalties

  • $2,500 fine;
  • 6 months in jail;
  • Repayment of the value of the items damaged.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Minimum Penalties

  • Probation;
  • Suspended fine.

Class 2 Misdemeanor Maximum Penalties

  • $1,500 fine;
  • 4 months in jail;
  • Repayment of the value of the items damaged.

Class 2 Misdemeanor Minimum Penalties

  • Probation;
  • Suspended fine.

SIDE NOTE: diversion or deferred prosecution agreements are common in many instances and allow for your case to be dismissed.

Punishment for Criminal Damage – Felony

The maximum and minimum punishment that you can expect after a conviction for felony criminal damage depends on the type or felony for which you are convicted.

Class 4 Felony

  • Probation; or
  • Between 1 and a maximum of 3.75 years in prison.

Class 5 Felony

  • Probation; or
  • Between six months and a maximum of 2.5 years in prison.

Class 6 Felony

  • Probation; or
  • Between four months and a maximum of 2 years in prison.

Criminal Damage Domestic Violence Arizona

Criminal damage charges are often accompanied by an allegation of domestic violence. When a person is charged with a domestic violence offense, they will face all of the punishments of the underlying crime of criminal damage as well suffer additional consequences surrounding the domestic violence component.

These charges are often accompanied by charges of disorderly conduct or assault. When police are called to a domestic disturbance and one or more of the parties is unwilling to participate in the investigation, officers will often charge a person with criminal damage domestic violence if there is evidence that property was damaged during a domestic dispute. These charges can be very difficult for the State to substantiate and a positive defense outcome is likely when an experienced criminal damage lawyer is utilized.

Criminal Damage Lawyer

Defenses to Criminal Damage to Property

Developing a solid defense strategy is paramount to getting your case dismissed or reduced. The defenses that you may want to raise will depend on the specific facts of your case. However, some of the more common defenses include:

Unreliable Investigation and Evidence. This involves attacking the quality of the police’s investigation and the reliability of the evidence used against you. Your attorney should consider attacking what evidence was preserved and not preserved, the quality of the witnesses, the witness statements, the valuation of the items or services allegedly stolen, as well as the quality of the police reports and record keeping.

Mistaken Identity. If you are charged with a crime on the basis of eyewitness identification, then you will want to look into attacking the eyewitness’s testimony. Eyewitness testimony has been shown to be one of the most unreliable types of evidence. Other times, suggestive photo lineups and mistaken identification in video leads to wrongful arrests.

Mere Presence. If you were simply at the scene when a crime was being committed, then you may want to raise a mere presence defense. If you were merely present at the crime scene, then you did not have any criminal intent and did not take part in the crime.

Constitutional Challenges. Your attorney may also raise defenses by way of Constitutional legal challenges including: Miranda Violations, illegal search and seizure violations and right to counsel violations.

Damage Value. Because the Arizona criminal damage definition requires that the prosecution prove a specific dollar amount, you can often be successful in arguing a reduced value of the damage to a specific item.

Diversion Agreement. Diversion agreements, or deferred prosecution agreements are plea agreements that allow your case to be dismissed after you have successfully completed some type of requirement such as repaying the value of the item, attending classes or completing community service.

Misdemeanor Compromise. For misdemeanor  charges, there is a way for a person to engage in a civil compromise. Although often left unexplored, a misdemeanor compromise pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3981 is an excellent way to avoid jail time, reduce fines and have your case dismissed.

Example. You are accused of graffiti on the wall of a private business. If the company agrees, you can simply pay money for the damage caused in exchange for the criminal case being dismissed. It is important to note, however, when you have been accused of a crime, you are generally forbidden from making contact with the victim (company). As such, misdemeanor compromises must be handled by an experienced criminal damage lawyer, judges or the victim advocate. Simply contacting the victim and asking to buy our way out of a crime may constitute witness tampering.

Criminal Damage Lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona

At Feldman and Royle, we understand that every case is different. We are a team of defense attorneys with experience handling both felony and misdemeanor criminal damage cases. We also have extensive experience litigating domestic violence cases as they pertain to criminal damage charges. Please contact us for a free consultation in order to further discuss the circumstances of your case and find out how we can help you.