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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25987
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My younger brother was arrested yesterday by Tempe PD. He

Customer Question

Hi, my younger brother was arrested yesterday by Tempe PD. He was visiting a friend, and is from WA state. They using the elevator in his friend's apt. My brother jumped, and when he did so the elevator shut down. They had to have the fire dept. open the elevator and help them out. The arresting officers arrested him for "Criminal Destruction of Property". The kid has never been in trouble a day in his life and had to spend a night in jail for jumping in an elevator.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.


How old is your brother? Are you saying that he jumped inside of the elevator and that's why it stopped working? Were there others in the elevator? How was it that the police found out what your brother did? Was he charged with a crime and does he have to appear in court?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He is 19 years old. His best friend was with him, said the elevator was making a strange sound and then my brother jumped and the elevator stopped. He was charged with "Criminal Property damage/destruction". The apartment is on campus and from what I understand security called the police.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much for the reply. Was he just arrested or is he also going to be prosecuted?

I've looked at the Malicious Mischief statutes for Washington State, and I don't think this is a strong case against him, as to convict him at trial, the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly and maliciously acted to destroy property.

What is the question that you want to ask about this incident?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, to clarify he is in AZ, only visiting from WA. I was mostly curious about the arrest itself. I work for SPD, and I know I wouldn't arrest for the facts as they were, and couldn't think of an officer who would. Where would he go from here? And I'm serious when I say this, he has never been in any trouble before. Just having a hard time reconciling him being taken to jail for something so trivial.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

It's not trivial. As you can see from the statute I linked you to, if the offense can be proved against him beyond a reasonable doubt, he could theoretically be convicted of a class C felony.

There is a big difference between what is needed for the police to make an arrest or for the prosecutor to file charges and what is needed for a conviction. To arrest him /file charges, the state only needs something called probable cause. Probable cause does not require much evidence. It's just a reasonable belief that your brother may have intentionally caused damage to the elevator. Arguably, your brother's conduct could have provided the police with probable cause. On just that little the state is entitled to make an arrest if they think they may be able to prove their case.

To convict him, on the other hand, the prosecutor would need to believe not just that he caused the damage to the property but that he did so knowingly and maliciously. Not only that, they'd have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very heavy burden and which, based at least on the fact that you've told me, would be difficult for them to do. Again, however, when the state has probable cause, they are entitled to try.

So, one reason they kept your brother overnight was because the charge is not trivial. It's a felony with a maximum possible penalty of 5 years in prison. Another reason they kept him in overnight was that he was from out of state and would be presumed a likely flight risk.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

When is he due back in court?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Unknown, saw a judge today who declared it a class 2 misdemeanor. His friend told me levator is already back up and running, was operating before the morning. Said he has a 6 month probation and a diversion program he has to do online.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 year ago.

Okay. Not surpised, as it was a very weak case. So the prosector reduced it and offered him a diversion program because it was his first arrest. That means if he completes the course he has to do online and he stays out of trouble for the next 6 months and is in compliance with all the other terms of his probation, this case will be dismissed.