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DUI and Criminal Damage

What Is Criminal Damage?

Criminal Damage is a statutory offense defined under A.R.S. § 13-1601

13-1602Criminal damage; classification

A. A person commits criminal damage by:

1. Recklessly defacing or damaging property of another person.

2. Recklessly tampering with property of another person so as substantially to impair its function or value.

3. Recklessly damaging property of a utility.

4. Recklessly parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock of access to the only reasonably available water.

5. 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.

6. Intentionally tampering with utility property.

Reckless conduct, as it relates to criminal acts is defined under A.R.S. §13-105

"Recklessly" means, with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.  A person who creates such a risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk."

DUI Accidents

Accidents occurring in conjunction with DUI, absent an intervening cause, are considered avoidable and the result of reckless behavior.  "The rationale for the criminalization of driving under the influence is the potential risk of injury or damage that arises from operation of a vehicle while under the influence."  State v. Olquin, 216 Ariz. 250, 254, ¶ 22, 165 P.3d 228, 232 (App. 2007).  When a person drives under the influence, one arguably disregards "a substantial and unjustifiable risk" their behavior will result in damage and or injuries.  

Criminal Damage and DUI

Criminal damage is often charged in conjunction with DUI when an accident results in damage to property of another. In order to be charged with criminal damage, prosecutors must prove that an individual recklessly damaged the property of another. Recklessly means that a person knew the risk and disregarded the risk.  In these cases, prosecutors argue that operating a vehicle while impaired is reckless behavior which everybody knows to be dangerous.

Arizona Revised Statute § 13-503

Arizona Revised Statute 13-503 provides that the temporary intoxication resulting from the voluntary consumption of alcohol is not a defense for any criminal act or requisite state of mind.  It is not a defense to a crime that a driver does not recognize his or her impairment and the risks associated with it. 

Criminal can be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the amount of damage.  If charged as a felony, and the accused has no prior felony convictions, felony criminal damage is probation eligible.  Probation eligible means the court has the option of either placing the person on probation or sending them to prison. 

Criminal Damage Classifications

The classification of criminal damage depends on the financial harm caused by the act.  

Class 2 Misdemeanor:  Damage less than $250.
Class 1 Misdemeanor:  Damage is at least $250.
Class 6 Felony:  Damage is at least $1,000.
Class 5 Felony:  Damage is at least $2,000 or if the damage was to promote, assist or further the efforts of a criminal street gang or syndicate intending to intimidate.
Class 4 Felony:  Damage is at least $10,000 or $5,000 in repairs or if a person intentionally tampers with a utility's property causing an imminent safety hazard.

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We understand that a DUI charge is like a dark cloud looming above you. We work together to make sure that you not only get a great resolution to your case, but that you also know that you are well taken care of every step of the way.