What is Criminal Damage (ARS 13-1602)?
At its most simple definition, ARS 13-1602 is a crime against property. However, even though no one got hurt, you could still be facing some very serious penalties and jail or prison time. It is important to note that Criminal Damage is often levied alongside other charges, such as burglary (for example, breaking a window or door to enter a house to steal something can lead to both burglary and criminal damage charges). So, therefore all the penalties listed for Criminal Damage are in addition to penalties for other charges.
Types of actions considered Criminal Damage
- Breaking someone’s stuff during an argument (e.g., kicking in a door, throwing a cell phone)
- Tampering with someone’s property (e.g., breaking a window, breaking a mailbox)
- Car accident damage (if you are considered to be driving recklessly)
Penalties for Criminal Damage
Unlike some other crimes, ARS 13-1602 carries a penalty based on the value of the property damaged. See below for the penalties based on property value.
- Less than $250: Class 2 misdemeanor, up to 4 months jail time.
- $250 to $2,000 : Class 6 felony, up to one year jail or prison time.
- $2,000 to $10,000: Class 5 felony, up to 18 months jail or prison time.
- More than $10,000: Class 4 felony, up to 2.5 years prison time.
Any damage to a utility, regardless of value, is a class 4 felony and is considered Aggravated Criminal Damage.
Aggravated Criminal Damage (ARS 13-1604)
Aggravated Criminal Damage is something you can be charged with when the structure or property you have damaged is considered something sacred or special, including a church, school, cemetery, or public utility. ARS 13-1604 carries heavier penalties than ARS 13-1602, and is always considered a felony.
What should you do if you are accused of Criminal Damage?
The first thing you should do if you are arrested under Criminal Damage charges is to exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say to the police, regardless of your intent, can be used to prosecute you. Police are under no obligation to tell you the truth, so make sure you don’t talk at all without an attorney present. Often, the very act of asking to speak to your attorney is enough to end all interrogations.
The next thing you must do is vital to setting up a strong defense. Finally make sure you hire a good, experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney becomes your voice in the legal system, and can often get charges dropped or reduced.