Criminal Damage is a go-to charge field by prosecutors when a person damages the property of another. Criminal Damage charges can stem from reckless conduct—meaning that you do not need to intentionally damage someone’s property in order to be charged with a crime. Criminal Damage charges often stem from items broken during a domestic dispute that turns physical, or damage to a person’s car or other property as a result of reckless driving behavior, such as driving under the influence of alcohol. Given the wide range of conduct that fits within the Criminal Damage laws, these offenses can range from class 2 misdemeanors to a class 4 felonies.
In Arizona, there are six different ways that a person can be charged with Criminal Damage:
The penalties for a Criminal Damage charge vary depending on the severity of the offense and the dollar amount of damages as follows:
If a person is convicted of a class 4 felony Criminal Damage charge, they may face 1 to 3.75 years in prison, up to 4 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
If a person is convicted of a class 5 felony Criminal Damage charge, the punishment may include 6 months to 2.5 years in prison, up to 3 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
If a person is convicted of a class 6 felony Criminal Damage charge, the punishment may include 4 months to 2 years in prison, up to 3 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
A class 1 misdemeanor conviction for Criminal Damage may lead to a maximum of 6 months in jail, up to 3 years of probation, and a fine of $2,500 plus surcharges.
A class 2 misdemeanor conviction for Criminal Damage may lead to a maximum of 4 months in jail, up to 2 years of probation, and a fine of $750 plus surcharges.
Aside from the prison, jail, probation and fines listed above, Criminal Damage will also lead to additional consequences. First, you will have a criminal conviction on your record until Arizona’s new criminal and DUI expungement laws are enacted in 2023. This criminal record may lead to difficulty finding or maintaining employment. It can also cause issues with finding housing, applying for loans, holding professional licenses, and obtaining security clearance. Further, if convicted of a felony, you will lose civil rights, including the right to possess a firearm, vote, run for public office, or serve on a jury.
If Criminal Damage is charged due to property damaged during a domestic dispute, the offense may be charged as domestic violence. This is the case even if the property was partially owned by you, if the other owner of the property is your spouse, romantic partner, child, or other person falling under the domestic violence statutes. A domestic violence conviction makes you a prohibited possessor, meaning you would be unable to legally possess or own a firearm. Domestic violence convictions also may influence your ability to gain employment, find housing, or hold certain professional licenses. If you are involved in a divorce or child custody dispute, a domestic violence conviction can put you at a serious disadvantage in the family court system.
A common defense to many Criminal Damage charges is that the person did not act recklessly in causing the damage. If damage was caused during a fight, you may be able to claim that you were defending yourself and the resulting damage was purely accidental. This may be a situation where a person is fleeing from a domestic violence incident and bumps into a table, accidentally causing a glass or plate to fall to the floor and break.
Many Criminal Damage cases come down to a dollar amount. If there is a dispute regarding the actual value of the item that was damaged, a successful challenge of the dollar amount of damages may significantly reduce charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.
If you are charged with Criminal Damage charges in El Mirage, a conviction can have serious, lasting consequences. Contact the attorneys at the Rosenstein Law Group at 480-248-7666 or online for a free consultation and case evaluation.