Arizona law prohibits recklessly causing damage to someone else’s property. The classification of a criminal damage offense will depend on the value of lost property and the type of damaged property. This crime is often charged as a felony and carries strict penalties.
It’s essential that you contact a Mesa criminal damage lawyer as soon as you can if you’re facing a criminal damage charge. They’ll answer your legal questions and help you determine what to do next.
Criminal Damage Laws in Mesa
You may receive a criminal damage charge in Arizona for the following behaviors:
- Tampering with and substantially impairing the value or function of property
- Blocking livestock from accessing water by parking your vehicle in the way
- Drawing a symbol, sign, slogan, or message on property (graffiti)
- Defacing or causing damage to someone’s personal property
- Purposely tampering with or damaging utility property
Aggravated Criminal Damage
You may receive an aggravated criminal damage charge for damaging specific types of property. This is a felony crime, regardless of how much the property is worth, in the following cases:
- Tampering with or damaging an agriculture, utility, or construction site to take metals
- Causing damage to property used for religion or worship purposes
- Causing damage to an educational facility or school building
- Damaging mortuary or cemetery property
Penalties for Criminal Damage in Mesa
Arizona law classifies and penalizes criminal damage offenses based on the severity of damage sustained, with charges typically including:
Class 4 Felony: If the damage exceeds $10,000, it may be charged as a class 4 felony with up to 3.75 years imprisonment and probation as the maximum penalties; any prior conviction could lead to up to 7.5 years behind bars and two prior convictions can lead to 15 years.
Class 5 Felony: If damage caused is between $2,000 and $10,000, this offense can be charged as a class 5 felony. A first time offender faces up to two years imprisonment while repeat offenses carry up to three and three-and-a-half year jail terms respectively; with two previous convictions coming with maximum sentences of seven-and-a-half years each time.
Class 6 Felony: Damage exceeding $1,000 and $2,000 falls into this classification of felonies, and can result in maximum imprisonment sentences between 2 years and 2.75 years for a first offense; after any prior conviction, that maximum sentence increases to 5.75 years.
Class 1 Misdemeanor: Criminal damage between $250 and $2,000 can be classified as a class 1 misdemeanor offense, carrying with it up to six months in jail with probationary services as possible penalties.
Class 2 Misdemeanor: Any damage under $250 falls under this classification of misdemeanor offense and could result in up to four months in jail and/or a $750 fine plus surcharge.
By working with a skilled criminal damage lawyer in Mesa, you may get your felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Having a criminal record can put a serious strain on your life, so it’s best to pursue lesser penalties.
Defenses for Criminal Damage in Mesa
If you decide to work with a criminal damage lawyer, there are a number of defenses they may use for your chase. They could assert that there was a lack of criminal behavior and that the charges were exaggerated or fabricated. Alternatively, you may have caused damage without criminal intent, meaning you accidentally damaged property. The police may have forgotten to read you your Miranda rights, which would count in favor of your case.
In some cases, your lawyer may be able to reduce the severity of your charges or even have them dropped altogether. The sooner you speak with a legal representative in Mesa, the quicker they can get to work and assist you with your case.
JacksonWhite Law in Mesa, Arizona
JacksonWhite Law has been serving clients in the Mesa area since 1983. We offer a full range of legal assistance and have plenty of experience navigating cases just like yours with great success. As one of the biggest firms in the East Valley, we work to provide advanced, insightful legal solutions to families, businesses, and individuals throughout the state of Arizona.
From fines, to probation and jail time, being in legal trouble is no laughing matter. It could harm your opportunities in life and even make it harder to find a place to live. Speak with one of our skilled lawyers today to get answers to your questions and to protect your future.
JacksonWhite Mesa Office
Our Mesa office is on the northwest corner of W. Pepper and N. Center Street. You may park on Pepper or in the parking garage nearby.
The Mesa city court is located on the northwest corner of Pomeroy Street and 1st Avenue. You’ll find a public parking garage behind the building, which you can access from Pomeroy or Main Street.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 418-4281 to discuss your case today.