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Criminal Damage Cases In Arizona

Posted by Shawn Hamp | Jun 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Criminal damage

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Property Damage.

What is the Definition of Criminal Damage?

Criminal Damage in Arizona can be committed in the following ways.

  1. Recklessly defacing or damaging property of another person.
  2. Recklessly tampering with property of another person so as substantially to impair its function or value.
  3. Recklessly damaging property of a utility.
  4. Recklessly parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock of access to the only reasonably available water.
  5. 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.
  6. Intentionally tampering with utility property.

Classifications of Criminal Damage.

  • Damage over $10,000.00 is a Class 4 Felony.
  • Damage to a Utility Company over $5,000.00 is a Class 4 Felony.
  • Damage over $2,000 is a Class 5 Felony.
  • Damage over $1,000.00 is a Class 6 Felony.
  • Damage over $250.00 is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
  • Damage under $250.00 is a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

What is Aggravated Criminal Damage?

Aggravated Criminal Damage are strictly felony offenses committed under aggravated/serious circumstances regardless of the damage amount.

Aggravated Criminal Damage can be committed by intentionally or recklessly damaging property of another that includes a Church, School, Cemetery or Mortuary.

Aggravated Criminal Damage can also be committed by “scrapping” by tampering with any utility, agriculture, construction or building to obtain metals such as copper, aluminum and brass.

Aggravated Criminal Damage can be punished as a Class 3 Felony. It is possible to be charged with both a regular criminal damage over a certain dollar amount and an Aggravated Criminal Damage in the same case.

What is the maximum sentence for Criminal Damage?

Most criminal damage cases are charged as Class 1 Misdemeanor cases because the value is less than $1,000.00.  A Class 1 Misdemeanor is punishable with up to a $2,500.00 fine and up to Six (6) months in jail.

A Felony Criminal damage as a Class 3 Felony may be punishable with probation or prison up to 8.75 years.

The Court may order that criminal restitution be paid for any actual loss suffered by the victim.

What is Criminal Damage By Domestic Violence?

Criminal Damage by Domestic Violence is committed when a person recklessly damages property of another, and the victim either is related by blood or marriage, lives in the same household, has a child in common, or is a romantic interest.

Being convicted of a criminal damage by domestic violence must attend domestic violence counseling if convicted in addition to any other penalties, including jail.

What Defenses Are There For Criminal Damage?

Property does not belong to another person.

The damaged property must be owned by another person.  A dispute in title or legal ownership may exist and it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove that the property belonged to the victim.

Value of the property is less than the alleged classification.

Depending on the value of the property, the classification or the seriousness of the offense may be less.

Did Not Intentionally or Recklessly Damage Property.

The prosecution must prove that the damage to the property was intentional or reckless (by disregarding the risk of damaging the property.) Some damage to property may be accidental and not done with any intention of any kind.

In many cases the prosecution argues that criminal damage was intentional or reckless based on circumstantial evidence that the parties were in an argument.

About the Author

Shawn Hamp

President and lead counsel for the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp, P.C. (An Arizona Professional Corporation), Shawn Hamp has practiced law for more than 15 years with an emphasis in criminal law. An experienced trial attorney, Mr. Hamp has been lead counsel in hundreds of criminal trials and court...


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