Aside from shoplifting and other theft crimes, vandalism and destruction of property are probably the most commonly-charged property crimes in Maricopa County misdemeanor courts. The high volume of cases, and relative complexity of each case makes it rather common for a lawyer to represent a defendant in these charges.
There are usually a fair number of 13-1602 cases on the docket at any time and many prosecutors understand that these cases usually require extra special care and attention to detail. Additionally, these cases often require identifying, locating, subpoenaing, and preparing non-police witnesses.
This scenario often produces an outcome that involves pretrial diversion as an alternative from traditional criminal justice processing. This alternative is usually available in nonviolent misdemeanors, like vandalism charges, drug possession charges, and destruction of property charges. If the defendant pays restitution, pays a small fine, and completes some other program requirements, like performing community service and attending a self-improvement class, prosecutors may be swayed to dismiss or lessen the charges.
Options like this one are only available to people who are not in jail. So, it’s critical to work with Sanctuary Bail Bonds (Phoenix bail bonds) and get out of jail. A strong defense always begins with being released from jail on bond. A bail bondsman is also an excellent resource person if you have questions about the criminal justice bail bonding process in Maricopa County.
The statute technically contains six kinds of vandalism charges. But the laws which involve utility companies and/or utility services are basically the same. Punishment usually depends on the value of the property. If the value is less than $250, criminal damage is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
According to section C, the “value” is not the property’s fair market value. Instead, value is “reasonable labor costs of any kind, reasonable material costs of any kind and any reasonable costs that are attributed to equipment that is used to abate or repair the damage to the property.”
So, if a kid “tags” a statue in the park, the “value” is probably less than $250. Paint remover is pretty cheap.
Recklessly Defacing or Damaging Property of Another Person
“Recklessly” is an interesting mental state from a legal perspective. It is not quite “maliciously” and worse than “accidentally.” Joker’s misadventures in the Flugelheim Museum are a good example. He arguably did not maliciously deface those paintings, but he certainly did not accidentally deface them either.
The same point about “value” applies. The artwork’s fair market or total value does not matter. Instead, “value” in this context means the cost of removing the offending paint. That includes both direct costs, like materials, and indirect costs, like the time it took to remove the paint.
Recklessly Tampering with Property of Another Person so as Substantially to Impair its Function or Value
What’s the difference between defacing property and tampering with it? Keying a car is defacing property. Putting sugar in the gas tank is tampering with property.
Note that the same mental state applies. Many people put sugar in gas tanks because they think it’s funny, not because they harbor ill will toward the vehicle’s owner. If the act is anything other than accidental, and there’s no way to “accidentally” put sugar in a gas tank, Section 13-1602 charges could hold up in court.
Also, note that the defendant must “substantially” impair the property’s function or value. Let’s stay with the gas tank example.
Assume you gassed up your friend’s classic car with regular unleaded gasoline instead of premium unleaded. You probably acted recklessly, because the pumps are clearly marked “Regular” and “Premium.” But you did not substantially impair the value of the car. The engine may knock and there may be some other side-effects. However, there are no effects amounting to a substantial impairment of the property’s value or even the use of the property. At worst, there is a slight, temporary performance dropoff.
Recklessly Damaging, or Intentionally Tampering with, Property of a Utility
These two acts are probably separate because utility company property rights are much broader than personal property rights. When people throw things away, they arguably lose their property rights in the discarded items. That’s why it is sometimes possible for police officers to sort through garbage without search warrants. But when utility companies discard property, such as copper wire, it is still property of the utility company.
Additionally, curbside refuse containers belong to the utility company. Tagging them, crushing them, or doing anything else to them is probably a Class 2 misdemeanor. The same thing applies to any tampering with an electricity or water meter. There is no “substantial impairment” requirement in this part of the law.
Finally, utility companies often own large parts of the land around their physical facilities. As a rule of thumb, any real property within about a block of a power plant probably belongs to the power plant, no matter what the signs say or do not say.
Recklessly Parking Any Vehicle in Such a Manner as to Deprive Livestock of Access to the Only Reasonably Available Water
Only in Arizona, and perhaps Texas and a few other states, would you find a law like this one. When lawmakers enacted this provision way back in the day, it was probably a very pressing problem. Since the law is still on the books, the next time you take your OHV (off-highway vehicle) on a cattle drive, be sure you do not park beside the creek and possibly prevent other cattle from access to the water.
Recklessly Drawing or Inscribing a Message, Slogan, Sign or Symbol that is Made on Any Public or Private Building, Structure or Surface, Except the Ground, and that is Made Without Permission of the Owner
The drafters of this long-winded vandalism and destruction of property charge wanted to leave no doubt as to what was legal and what was illegal. This provision almost always applies to tagging and gang graffiti. These kinds of cases usually have significant proof problems if they ever go to court. Without video surveillance footage, an eyewitness, or a fellow gang member who turned state’s evidence, these cases are almost impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and thus end in a conviction.
So there you have the five types of charges that involve vandalism and destruction of property in Arizona. If you, a family member, or loved one has been arrested for any of these charges throughout the state of Arizona, you can count on the professionals at Sanctuary Bail Bonds for a 24/7 fast, respectful and discreet jail release on bond. For more information about our award-winning bonding services for property crimes in Maricopa County, contact Sanctuary Bail Bonds (Phoenix bail bond) at (602) 224-5247 or (602) BAIL-247. To learn more visit our FAQ-page.
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