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Is Littering a Criminal Offense in Arizona?

Posted on May 19, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Not many people can say they have never committed the crime of littering at some point in their life, whether it be intentionally or accidentally. But most people may be surprised to learn that littering is a criminal offense and the consequences can be quite severe depending on the circumstances. Most people are unaware that they are even committing a crime. For example, if someone drops a cigarette butt out of their window while driving on the highway, law enforcement can pull that person over and give them a ticket.

Charges Related to Littering in Arizona

Let’s look at how a person gets charged with criminal littering in Arizona. The Arizona criminal statute relating to littering is A.R.S. 13-1603 – Criminal Littering or Polluting. The classification of littering under this law is broad so leaves it open to a wide range of instances where someone could be brought up on littering or polluting charges. To break it down, under Arizona law, a person can be classified as committing criminal littering if:

  1. That person throws, places, drops or permits to be dropped on public property, or property of another, any litter, destructive or injurious material that the person does not immediately remove.
  2. Discharges or permits to be discharged any sewage, oil products or other harmful substances into any waters or onto any shorelines within this state.
  3. Dumps any earth, soil, stones, ores or minerals on any land.

The least serious offense and probably most commonly known is when someone places or drops any litter or destructive materials and does not immediately remove it.

Consequences of Criminal Littering Charges

Littering is a criminal offense that can range from a class 2 misdemeanor up to a class 6 felony.  Most littering cases are charged as a class 2 misdemeanor. A class 2 misdemeanor is punishable up to 4 months in jail, a $750 fine plus surcharge.

Littering becomes a class 1 misdemeanor if it involves placing any destructive or injurious material on or within fifty feet of a highway, beach or shoreline of any body of water used by the public. Therefore, if someone throws a cigarette butt out their window while driving on a highway, since this cigarette could have started a fire and was on a highway, this be charged as a class 1 misdemeanor.  A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable up to 6 months jail $2500 fine plus surcharges.

Finally, littering is a class 6 felony if the amount of litter exceeds 300 pounds or 100 cubic feet in volume or is done for a commercial purpose.

Need Help with a Criminal Littering Charge?

Since the penalties for this criminal littering vary and can range from fines to facing 6 months in jail, it is important to take these charges seriously. It is in your best interest to seek legal assistance when dealing with criminal cases like these. The Phoenix criminal defense lawyers at AZ Defenders has decades of experience in handling many different types of cases including criminal littering. To speak with an attorney to discuss your case, contact AZ Defenders today online or by 480-456-6400. Take action by getting our legal team working on your case immediately to help minimize the impact of these criminal charges.