Everyone has done it at some point in their lives. Whether it is done intentionally or accidentally, littering can actually lead to criminal charges in many communities in Arizona, up a felony offense, as a matter of fact. The state law, as it is written, is obscure and many municipalities like Scottsdale don’t always get it right when making an arrest.
Arizona criminal littering and polluting law
According to Arizona state law, you could be charged with a criminal offense if you are found by authorities to be doing any of the following acts.
- Dropping, placing, or throwing any material deemed injurious or destructive on someone’s else’s property, or public land without removing it. You can also be found culpable if you allow any of the acts to occur with your knowledge.
- Permit the release of sewage or oil products, or release them yourself into any bodies of water or along the shorelines of any bodies of water in the states.
- Engaging in the dumping or authorizing the dumping of minerals, ores, earth, stone, or soils on any land in the state.
Possible criminal charges
There are two possible charges that you may face if criminally charged with littering in the state. You might be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can be applied for littering with destructive or injurious materials within a 50 feet perimeter of a beach, shoreline, body of water, or highway. You can even face possible Class 6 felony charges if you are found to have known about the littering, and the injurious or destructive material has a weight of more than 300 lbs or is sized more than 100 cubic feet.
For most people, a littering charge will carry the risk of misdemeanor charges. Something as simple as flipping a cigarette out of the window, or discarding old food outside of the trash can result in facing criminal proceedings. Offenses can be even more severe if you are discarding these items in the water or along the shoreline.
Most felony infractions occur from commercial littering where the party either was involved in the actual dumping process or authorized it to occur. In either case, being found culpable can result in stiff penalties and consequences and add felony charges to your record.
Fighting a littering charge is possible
Though the charges and consequences will vary widely by the circumstances as well, whether it is a repeat offense, most first-time offenders will receive a fine and other minor consequences. Repeat charges can increase fines and result in stiffer penalties as well as additional criminal charges on your record. A trained and experienced attorney that knows the ins-and-outs of the Arizona littering laws will know possible defenses for your case, as well as ways to reduce fines and mitigate the outcome.
Since many cases of misdemeanor littering occur from a vehicle or at group functions, it can be hard to determine which party is responsible for the littering. This coupled with the fact that the item has to be deemed dangerous and injurious, as well as the added obscurity in the law’s language, can give you a chance to possibly beat the charges.
In felony cases, the prosecution will often have to prove that you had known that the littering was going to occur and failed to prevent it or report it. Proving what someone knows can be difficult as well, which makes hiring the right attorney so critical. An attorney experienced in Arizona littering laws knows how to use the obscurities in the law to prevent the best possible defense and hopefully limit your exposure to prosecution.