The definition of criminal damage is relatively straightforward. Arizona law lists various forms of behavior that constitute this crime. Whether a specific instance of criminal damage is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depends on what was damaged and what its value was.
Examples of Criminal Damage
Arizona law provides several examples of the different forms of criminal damage.
- Damaging someone else’s property (including graffiti)
- Tampering with someone else’s property and impairing its function or value
- Intentionally tampering with or damaging a utility’s property
- Depriving livestock of their only access to water by parking a vehicle
- Vandalism of public or private buildings by writing or drawing slogans or symbol
Criminal damage is considered aggravated is it is done in connection with any of the following behaviors.
- Damaging or defacing any buildings or property used for education or worship
- Damaging or defacing any cemetery, mortuary or other facility used for burial or memorializing the dead.
- Damaging or defacing or tampering with properties used for certain purposes, including utility or agricultural infrastructure, construction sites, and structures used to obtain nonferrous metals (i.e. metals other than iron).
Penalties for Criminal Damage
The penalties you may face if convicted of criminal damage will vary widely depending on whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony charge, and whether or not you are a repeat offender. Compare the following:
- A first-time offender who caused less than $250 in damages may be convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor and could face 2 years of probation, over $1,300 in fines, and up to 4 months in jail.
- A convicted felon with multiple felonies on his record who caused upwards of $10,000 in damages may be convicted of a class 3 felony. He could potentially face 25 years in prison plus a $150,000 fine.
In addition to these penalties, the court generally orders those convicted to make restitution for the damage they’ve caused. That means paying for the total cost of the damages on top of everything else.
Domestic Violence Criminal Damage
It is important to note that if you are married, you can potentially be charged with criminal damage for any damage you may have done to your own property. Suppose you punch a wall or kick a door to blow off steam after an argument. Any damage you inflict would be considered domestic violence criminal damage, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. This is because you share ownership of the property with your spouse. There is no minimum monetary threshold for domestic violence criminal damage, so your spouse could press charges against you for even minor damage.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been accused of committing criminal damage, then you should seek the services of a knowledgeable criminal attorney to represent you. Our experienced attorneys will ensure you receive the representation that you need. Contact us today to set up a consultation with a member of our experienced legal team.