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Arizona’s Criminal Damage Classifications

Posted on November 5, 2023 in

Intentionally damaging someone else’s property is a crime in Arizona with penalties dependent upon the value of the damaged property. Before the criminal justice system classifies the crime as a misdemeanor or felony, they must first evaluate the property to arrive at a dollar amount. If you or your family member damaged property belonging to someone else and now face criminal damage charges in Arizona, it helps to understand how the state determines the classification of this type of crime. Understanding these classifications and their potential penalties can also help keep Arizona residents from committing these intentional acts.

What is Criminal Damage in Arizona?

Criminal damage is a crime of recklessness in which one person “damages, defaces or tampers with property belonging to another person. Criminal damage also applies to tampering with someone’s property to impede its function or decrease its value. Additionally, a suspect may face criminal damage charges for the following:

  • Recklessly damaging a utility or tampering with utility property (such as public water or electricity services)
  • Recklessly parking a vehicle to block livestock from access to water
  • Recklessly defacing property by drawing messages, signs, or symbols on public or private structures or any surface other than the ground (graffiti)

Most of Arizona’s criminal damage definitions begin with the word “recklessly.” The courts describe reckless behavior as an awareness of actions taken with disregard for the consequences of the action.

Criminal Damage Classifications in Arizona

Damaging property that doesn’t belong to you may result in different designations of felony or misdemeanor charges in Arizona based on the evaluated monetary amount of the damage caused to the victim. If you’ve committed criminal damage in Arizona the following charges could apply:

  • Class 4 Felony Criminal Damage charges: this serious charge applies to criminal damage valued at $10,000 or more. This charge also applies to those who commit $5,000 or more in damage to a utility or any damage presenting a significant safety hazard
  • Class 5 Felony Criminal Damage charges: This applies to damage valued at $2,000 to $10,000 or gang-related or criminal organization-related criminal damage
  • Class 6 Felony Criminal Damage charges: this applies to criminal damage valued at $1,000-$2,000
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor charges: applies to criminal damage valued between $250 and $1,000
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor charges: Any other criminal damage

Arizona’s criminal justice system applies strict penalties to those convicted of recklessly or purposefully damaging property that belongs to someone else. These charges also apply to damaging property belonging to a spouse or co-owned with a spouse.

How Does Arizona Evaluate Property Damage for Criminal Damage Charges?

The state looks carefully at the damaged property to arrive at a dollar amount before pressing charges. Determining the value of the damaged property requires the following:

  • Evaluating the labor costs necessary to repair the damage
  • Evaluating the cost of the materials required to make repairs
  • Evaluating the cost of necessary repair equipment

Once the state evaluates the total cost of the criminal damage, they use that monetary amount to determine the seriousness of the crime before charging a suspect.

Because these charges have serious consequences and penalties, it’s important to seek experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney representation for a strong legal case.