Usually, prosecutors press criminal damage charges alongside related charges such as trespassing, burglary or domestic violence. In general, charges depend on the monetary value of the property allegedly damaged. They can also depend on the type of location allegedly damaged. Because of this, criminal damage could be considered a class 4 felony all the way down to a class 2 misdemeanor.
ARS 13-1602 defines criminal damage and outlines the sentencing guidelines. ARS 13-1604 defines aggravated criminal damage, and in legal terms “aggravated” means more severely punished due to the nature of the crime.
Criminal Damage with Domestic Violence
Many popular songwriters would find themselves facing these charges if they carried out their fantasies of smashing their ex’s car. The plaintiff alleges that you destroyed their property, or property that you jointly own, during a domestic altercation. Destroying your own property, however, is not considered criminal damage.
Defacing Property, AKA Vandalism or Graffiti
These charges apply to tagging and graffiti, as well as destruction of property by vandalism. Though it may seem like a harmless or juvenile act, locations such as religious institutions, public buildings, utilities and graveyards fall under ARS 13-1604’s definition of aggravated criminal damage.
Criminal Damage related to Burglary, Theft or Arson
If you are the suspect in a burglary involving a break-in, you may face criminal damage charges for the broken window. Prosecutors like to pile up charges because if we can dismiss or negotiate down one thing, they might be able to pursue a case on another. Then, once a case goes to trial, it might be easier to prove lesser charges.
For example, arson is classified as an intentional act, but criminal damage can be accidental or due to reckless behavior. If someone alleges you are responsible for destroying property with fire, arson charges require them to prove you did it on purpose, whereas criminal damage charges only require them to prove you committed a reckless act that created the fire. Prosecutors might bring both charges against you.
At Pinnacle Law, we have defended hundreds of criminal damage cases. Please call us today if you are facing criminal damage charges in Arizona courts.