What is Criminal Damage & What are the Penalties?
If you have been arrested for criminal damage in Arizona, you likely want to know what this charge is all about. Thankfully, the following is a breakdown of the charge, and what you can expect penalty-wise if you are found guilty of this crime.
What is Criminal Damage?
Criminal damage is a charge that means you have been accused of damaging or defacing property that belongs to another person. Types of criminal damage can include tampering with another person’s property that led to the devaluing or impairment of said property. Graffiti is another common example of this charge. Graffiti, of course, is the act of drawing or inscribing anything on a structure, building, or surface that you do now own, without getting the permission of the lawful owner.
What Are The Penalties for Criminal Damage?
The penalties for a criminal damage charge depend on the value of the property that was damaged and other factors. For example, the following is a general breakdown of how the law punishes each severity of the crime:
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: To be charged with this means you have damaged property valued at $250 or under. Penalties for this crime can include up to four months of jail time, along with $750 in fines and another two years’ probation.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: This charge means that you have damaged property valued under $1,000. Additional penalties for this crime include three years’ probation, up to $2,500 in fines, and up to six months of jail time.
- Class 6 Felony: If you are charged with this, it means you have damaged property valued between $1,000 and $2,000. Additional penalties include three years’ probation (for a first offense), up to two years in prison, and up to $150,000 in fines.
- Class 5 Felony: This is when the property you damaged is valued between $2,000 and $10,000. Other penalties of this charge include three years’ probation (for a first offense), up to $150,000 in fines, and up to 2.5 years in prison.
- Class 4 Felony: You can expect this charge when you damage property valued at $10,000 or more. Additional penalties of this crime include fines of up to $150,000, up to 3.75 years in prison, and four years’ probation (for a first offense).
Aggravated Criminal Damage
Aggravated criminal damage differs from a standard criminal damage charge as it indicates the property damage took place at a place of worship, a school, in a cemetery, on a construction site, agricultural site, or site that holds significance to certain communities. If you intentionally damage one of these places, you can expect to garner a more severe punishment from the court. The penalties for aggravated criminal damage are outlined below:
- For damaging a structure, sacred in nature, valued at $10,000 or more, you can face up to 3.5 years of prison.
- For damaging a structure, sacred in nature, valued between $1,500 and $10,000, you can face up to 2.5 years in prison.
- For damaging a structure, sacred in nature, valued under $1,500, you can face up to 1½ years in prison.
Defenses Against Criminal Damage Allegations
There are several methods for defending against criminal damage allegations. The following are all applicable defenses to consider:
- Lack of intent to cause damage
- Insufficient to cause damage to property
- Lack of reckless activity
- The damage did not impair the value or usefulness of the property
A skilled and experienced defense attorney will know about all these defenses against criminal damage to property allegations. Contact us to learn more about how we can defend your criminal defense charge in Phoenix and Mesa.