Criminal Damage

Damaging property holds harsh consequences for people who often have mostly innocent intentions. While defacing public property might seem like an insignificant act, the state of Arizona is determined to assign the proper penalties to people who choose to act against the government and fellow citizens in this way.

Types of Criminal Damage

The Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 13-1603, clearly lays out the causes for criminal damage charges. The list includes:

  • Damaging or defacing another person’s property.
  • Diminishing the value of another person’s property by extensive tampering.
  • Parking a vehicle in a way that cuts off livestock from their water source.
  • Writing any type of message on a public or private building or structure.

These are common occurrences in Arizona, which is why the government feels the need to address the issue with strict punishments and legal procedures. Although many of these actions are acted out against objects, the consequences aren’t very different from crimes against fellow humans.

Punishments for Criminal Damage

All penalties for property damage are related to the value attached to the property harmed in the incident. Unless the structure was very insignificant, property damage almost always results in a felony charge. The punishments are as follows:

  • Class 4 felony for a person who damages property worth $10,000 or more.
  • Class 4 felony for the individual who damages utility property worth $5,000 or more or if the damage creates a hazardous environment for anyone.
  • Class 5 felony for anyone who damages property worth between $2,000 and $10,000.
  • Class 6 felony for a person who damages property valued between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • Class 1 misdemeanor for the individual who damages property worth between $100 and $250.

The Arizona Revised Statute, Section 13-1603, is abundantly clear about how the state of Arizona plans to deal with people who don’t take criminal damage seriously. Having a felony on record can significantly cripple a person’s ability to find work, maintain civil rights, and more.

Aggravated Criminal Damage

This type of damaged wins the term aggravated because it refers to property damage inflicted on sacred establishments and structures. Places of worship, schools, cemeteries, construction sites, and agricultural sites all hold substantial significance to certain communities.

Intentionally damaging these places elicits more severe punishment from the court. Punishments outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 13-1604, include:

  • Up to three and half years in prison for damaging a sacred structure valued at $10,000 or more.
  • Up to two and half years in prison for damaging a sacred structure worth between $1,500 and $10,000.
  • Up to a year and a half in prison for damaging a sacred structure valued under $1,500.

Other Acts of Criminal Damage

Other serious offenses in Arizona include reckless burning, arson, and arson of an occupied structure. Each of these crimes results in misdemeanors or felonies for the participants. Each of these crimes can seem victimless without the proper knowledge concerning the corresponding legal procedures and potential punishments.

Many individuals receive criminal damage charges without knowing they were doing anything wrong. This situation leaves individuals confused about how to move forward.

The best solution for dealing with charges of criminal damage is for individuals to hire an experienced lawyer to navigate the legal process and make sure they explore each available option fully to minimize punishments and reduce charges. In the case of arson (especially arson of an occupied structure) it is imperative that you seek the counsel of an attorney right away.

Attorney Scott Stewart at the Stewart Law Group is one of the most talented criminal defense lawyers in Arizona. Gaining the support of his expertise will create the best possible outcome for any lawsuits involving accusations of criminal damage.