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What is the Crime of Criminal Damage in Arizona, A.R.S. 13-1602?

Arizona has a very broad statute regarding the offense of criminal damage, A.R.S. 13-1602, and it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the value of the damage. Because the statute is very broad someone involved in a car accident which causes damage to the other vehicle by definition is criminal damage if the accident was caused recklessly rather than negligently. Fortunately, most law enforcement agencies and prosecutors do not charge the common auto accident as criminal damage.

A person may be charged with the crime of criminal damage by acting recklessly in the following circumstances:

  1. Defacing or damaging property belonging to another person, or
  2. Tampering with property of another person so as to substantially impair its function or value, or
  3. Tampering with property of a utility, or
  4. Parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock access to the only available water, or
  5. Without the permission of the owner, drawing or inscribing a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building, structure or surface, except the ground.

A familiar example of criminal damage is graffiti on public or private buildings, such as a house or store, and structures like fences or signs.

When a spouse is charged with criminal damage of shared property then the offense may be designated as a crime of domestic violence. The domestic violence designation may enhance the penalty imposed by the court for repeat domestic violence offenders.

Property means anything of value, tangible or intangible, including trade secrets.

Property of another is property in which any person other than the defendant has an interest on which the defendant is not privileged to infringe, including community property.

What are the Penalties for Criminal Damage in Arizona, A.R.S 13-1602

Penalties for criminal damage in Arizona, A.R.S. 13-1602, range from a class 4 felony to a class 2 misdemeanor. The class of offense depends on the monetary value of the amount of damage or impairment.

  • Criminal damage in Arizona is a class 4 felony if the damage to the property of another is more than $10,000.
  • It is also a class 4 felony for a person to recklessly damage the property of a utility in an amount of $5,000 or more if the person recklessly causes impairment of the functioning of the utility.
  • It is a class 5 felony if the person recklessly damages property of another in an amount of $2,000 to $10,000.
  • Criminal damage is a class 6 felony if the person recklessly causes damage to the property of another in an amount of $1,000 to $2,000.
  • It is a class 1 misdemeanor if the person recklessly damages property of another in an amount of $250 to $1,000.
  • In all other cases criminal damage is a class 2 misdemeanor.

Defenses to the Offense of Criminal Damage in Arizona, A.R.S. 13-1602

The potential for a defense to a charge of criminal damages in Arizona, A.R.S. 13-1602, depends on the circumstances of the crime charged. A potential defense to the charge of criminal damage is mistaken identity. This defense is used when the accused is identified by a third party as the perpetrator of the crime.

Another defense may be based on the value of the property damaged. For example, the government may claim the value of the damage is more than $2,500 making the offense a class 5 felony, and the defense is that the value of the damage is only $1,900 making the offense a lesser class 6 felony.

The defense of mere presence is available to a third party who is merely at the scene of the crime but takes no part in the crime whatsoever. This might occur when a couple of friends are walking along and one person suddenly and without warning decides to spray Graffiti on a wall while the friend merely watches.

It is also possible to argue that any damage caused to property was not the result of recklessness as required by the statute, but mere negligence.

There may be other defenses to the charge of criminal damage in Arizona, A.R.S. 13-1602, such as:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Mere presence
  • Alibi
  • Insufficiency of state's evidence

Brian Di Pietro Law, PLLC Arizona Experienced Tough Aggressive Lawyer for a Charge of Criminal Damage

Contact Brian Di Pietro Law, PLLC today for a free case evaluation about your pending property damage case involving criminal damage in Arizona. Brian Di Pietro is an experienced, tough, aggressive Phoenix criminal defense attorney who will work hard to fight the charges against you to achieve the most favorable outcome for your particular property damage charges. Contact now Brian Di Pietro Law, PLLC at 623-242-2655, for a free confidential case evaluation about your criminal damage charges in Arizona.