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Posted on November 12, 2021 in Criminal Defense

What is Criminal Mischief in Phoenix, Arizona?

Criminal mischief is a property crime on the books in every state. In Arizona, criminal mischief is better known as “Criminal Damage.”

There are two statutes that prosecutors can use to charge you for criminal mischief in Phoenix:

If the state is accusing you of criminal damage, you need to lawyer up, and fast!

What Does the State Need to Prove to Convict You of Criminal Mischief in Phoenix?

To prove criminal mischief in Phoenix, prosecutors need to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal damage in violation of ARS 13-1602 has six elements:

  1. The defendant
  2. Recklessly
  3. Damaged, defaced, or inscribed
  4. Property of another
  5. Without Consent
  6. The dollar value to repair or replace the property was [_____]

The elements of aggravated criminal damage are very similar, except that the property damaged must have been one of the following:

  • A school
  • A place of worship
  • A cemetery or mortuary
  • A utility, a mine, a construction site, or agricultural infrastructure.

Aggravated criminal damage is always a felony, unlike regular criminal damage to property, which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.

A classic example of criminal mischief / damage is graffiti. Other examples could include egging a house or keying a car. Of course, criminal damage can also involve much more serious types of damage to property. As the dollar value of the damage increases, so do the penalties.

Many good kids and young adults get caught spray painting someone’s property. Other times, romantic couples might damage property after a fight in a burst of passion. A criminal defense lawyer can help if you’ve been charged with criminal damage.

What are the Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Arizona?

Now that we have defined criminal mischief, it is important to understand the penalties you could face if convicted. A criminal defense lawyer has many tools at their disposal to fight hard against your charges.

Your unique charges and penalties could be different. In general, the penalties for criminal damage to property are:

FactsClassificationPenalty
$10,000 + in damage OR damage to a utilityClass 4 Felony1 – 3.75 years prison; up to $150,000 fine
$2000 – $10,000 in damage OR damage done in furtherance of gang activityClass 5 Felony6 months to 2.5 years prison; up to $150,000 fine
$1000 – $2000 damageClass 6 Felony4 months to 2 years prison
$250 – $1000 damageClass 1 MisdemeanorUp to 6 months jail; $2500 fine
Under $250 damageClass 2 MisdemeanorUp to 4 months jail; $750 fine

 

In addition to these penalties, the court may also order payment of restitution. This is when you pay to repair the damaged property.

Aggravated criminal damage can have even steeper penalties than the ones described above. No matter which criminal mischief statute you are charged with, you need to work closely with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight the allegations.

Some examples of ways to fight a criminal mischief case in Phoenix include:

  • Showing unreliability in eyewitness testimony
  • Showing video evidence is very poor quality
  • Arguing your Fifth Amendment rights were violated
  • Filing a motion to suppress evidence for Fourth Amendment violations
  • Negotiating with prosecutors for a dismissal or reduction in charges

Of course, every case requires a unique approach depending on the nature of the allegations. Don’t wait to seek legal help, your rights and freedom are at stake.

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