Criminal defense, sometimes known as criminal mischief or, more pointedly, vandalism, is the act of damaging or defacing someone else's property, or the public's property. It can include acts ranging from writing your name on a stop sign to severely damaging a town's water system. Stealing copper from air conditioners, electric lines or other sources also falls under criminal damage. It's a crime with a wide range of consequences.Tempe Criminal Damage Defense Lawyer
If you're accused of criminal damage or aggravated criminal damage, you can fight the charges with the help of Tempe criminal damage lawyer James Novak. Whether your charges are felony or misdemeanor, penalties are severe. James Novak, a former prosecutor, takes all matters seriously and will zealously fight for your rights, seeking to a favorable result, whether than be a reduced charged, a dismissed charge or an acquittal. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak today at (480) 413-1499 for a free consultation.
James Novak represents clients facing criminal damage charges throughout the Tempe area, including Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale and East Valley.
Defining Criminal Damage in Arizona
If accused of criminal damage, you are being accused of recklessly:
- Damaging or defacing another's property.
- Otherwise tampering with another's property so as to substantially impair the property's value.
- Tampering or damaging the property of a utility, like water service or electricity provider.
- Parking a vehicle so that it prevents livestock from having access to water.
- Drawing or inscribing any message, slogan, sign or symbol on any private or public building, structure or surface without the owner's permission.
The last item of the above list is more commonly known as graffiti. If you are accused of spray painting or using an indelible marker to tag, paint a mural on or otherwise paint something on a building, whether it's someone else's building and the owner did not grant you permission, or it's on a building owned by the government, you could face criminal damage charges. You could also face criminal damage charges for keying cars, throwing rocks through windows, kicking potted plants over and any other act that might be considered vandalism.
The extent of punishment depends on the monetary value of the damage you are alleged to have caused. For any damage $250 or less, the charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine. For more than $250 up to $1,000 in damage, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
If the amount of the damage is more than $1,000, you could face felony charges. For more than $1,000 and less than $2,000, it's a Class 6 felony, with 18 to 36 months in prison, a presumptive term of 27 months. For between $2,500 and $10,000, the charges are a Class 5 felony, punishable by two to four years in prison and a presumptive term of three years.
If the damage is more than $10,000, the charges go up to a Class 4 felony, punishable with four to eight years in prison and a presumptive term of six years. Additionally, if you are accused of damaging a utility with damages ranging more than $5,000 worth, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony.
Aggravated Criminal Damage Charges in Maricopa County
Arizona law treats defacing or damaging some buildings or objects as worse than others, and punishes them more severely. If accused of any such crime, the charges are elevated to aggravated criminal damage. You may be charged with aggravated criminal damage if accused of intentionally or recklessly defacing, damaging or tampering with:
- A building used for worship, or any property used for a religious purpose.
- A school or educational institution.
- A cemetery or mortuary, or any property of a cemetery or mortuary.
If convicted of damaging any of the above properties, you could face 18 months to three years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 27 months, for a Class 6 felony. If the damage was more than $1,500 but less than $10,000, the charge is a Class 5 felony, punishable by two to four years with a presumptive term of three years. And if the damage is more than $10,000, the charge is a Class 4 felony, punishable with four to eight years in prison with a presumptive term of six years.
Additionally, if accused of tampering, defacing or damaging any agricultural property or utility for the purpose of obtaining nonferrous metals, like copper, you could face a Class 5 felony for less than $1,500 of damage, a Class 4 felony for $1,500 to $10,000, and a Class 3 felony for more than $10,000. A Class 3 felony is punishable by five to 15 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 7.5 years.
Law Office of James E. Novak | Mesa Criminal Damage Attorney
If you face criminal damage charges, have an experienced advocate on your side. Tempe criminal damage lawyer James Novak will fight for you. Contact the Law Office of James E. Novak today at (480) 413-1499 to set up a free consultation.