Causing damage to someone else’s property in Scottsdale can put you in jeopardy of being convicted of criminal damage. Whether it is scribbling graffiti on a building, or smashing in the windows on your ex’s car, you can face serious penalties; including jail or prison time. If you are charged with criminal damage in Scottsdale, or anywhere in Arizona, it is vital to understand what consequences you may face and what options you have for fighting your case.
Understanding Criminal Damage in Arizona
When it comes to criminal damage law in Arizona, you can face up to a class 4 felony, or down to a class 2 misdemeanor. It is a serious offense, due to the nature of the crime. If a person intentionally or recklessly damages property of another person, business, or utility, they can be convicted of the charge, with a permanent stain on their record. The difference in the level of severity depends on what was damaged, the cost of the damage, whether it endangered others, and whether it was criminal/gang related. According to ARS 13-1602, criminal damage in Arizona includes:
• Recklessly defacing, damaging, or tampering with another person’s property
• Recklessly damaging or intentionally tampering with utility property
• Parking a vehicle to block livestock’s access to water
• Writing graffiti on any private or public building without permission
While these crimes may not sound serious, they come with serious penalties. If the damage is more than $1,000, it is a class 6 felony, while higher increments of damage to property may lead to a class 4 felony. Also, even if the damage does not meet the dollar amount, if it is considered gang-related to intimidate, it can be a class 5 felony. Damage between $250-$1000 is a class 1 misdemeanor – all other criminal damage is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Aggravated Criminal Damage
In criminal damage cases, it is not just how much damage is done, it is also what was damaged that is important. Aggravated criminal damage refers to intentional or criminal recklessness against religious properties, schools, cemeteries, mortuaries, and certain agricultural or mining sites. Anyone charged with aggravated criminal damage faces a felony charge, the class of which depends on the extent of the damage and can be up to a class 3 felony.
Domestic Violence Criminal Damage
Another level of criminal damage is when it is related to domestic violence. Due to the serious nature of domestic violence, when it is attached to a criminal damage charge, it can create a more serious impact on the accused person’s record. The domestic violence connotation is often added when a person damages property of a spouse, former spouse, live-in girlfriend/boyfriend, or anyone fitting the description under the domestic violence ARS 13-3601. The criminal damage is used when the accused did not harm the other person but instead damaged property.
The problem with a domestic violence connotation on a criminal damage charge is that it is a violence charge. This can have more impact on your record as it is a type of criminal violence, which can affect your future. Slashing your ex’s tires or destroying something of theirs during a fight can be an action that will follow you forever if you are convicted of domestic violence criminal damage.
Fight Criminal Damage Charges in Scottsdale
Regardless of what type of criminal damage charge you face, you want to have legal representation to fight your case. Most criminal damage cases can result in jail time, even time in prison, and with a permanent scar on your record. With aggravated or domestic violence criminal damage, the consequences are even steeper.
There are many ways to fight criminal damage. One of the main aspects of criminal damage is whether or not you intentionally or recklessly did damage to another person’s property. If it can be proven you did not intend to cause damage, that it was accidental even if you were being reckless, the charges could be dismissed. There are other defense options as well. In domestic violence criminal damage, often the property damaged was also owned by the accused, making it their property to do what they want. It is important to look at all the options to find the best strategy to reduce the charges or have them completely dismissed, if possible.
At Matthew Lopez Law, we understand the nuances of criminal damage laws in Arizona and can help you find the right defense for your case. If you have been charged with this crime in Scottsdale, Tempe, or Lake Havasu City, or anywhere in Arizona, contact one of our offices to schedule a free consultation. We can discuss your case and look at the best options to get a positive outcome. We have helped many people over the years put a poor decision behind them with our legal expertise.