Vandalism occurs when an individual intentionally destroys property, usually not belonging to them, and causes a decrease in the property’s value. Vandalism is when someone spray paints the side of a building without the owner’s consent, or placing stickers on someone else’s property such as their car windows or building windows. There are several ways to deface someone’s property and therefore commit the criminal offense that is vandalism, such as:
- Breaking car or building windows
- Marking up a bench or public property with a permanent marker
- Keying someone’s car
- Carving your name into a park tree
Vandalism is not only the defacing or damaging of someone’s property that must be proven in order to be charged. There are different factors to vandalism that the prosecutor must prove so that a charge is successful, much like any other criminal offenses a few things must be considered before you are charged. There are few questions that must be answered.
Was there any actual damage done to the physical property? Defacing the property can be done in many ways, stickers, coloring with markers, spray painting, or carving anything onto the property. This is commonly known as graffiting.
Is the property owned by someone else? If so, this is a major key. If the property is your own, you are free to do what you wish with it and therefore it is not vandalism.
Did you commit this act on purpose? If it was an accident you are not exempt from being responsible but you may be excused from a vandalism charge.
If your answer to all questions was “yes” then you may be charged with vandalism and there are certain penalties you face. Laws vary from state to state in regard to punishment for this crime, but to name a few:
- You can face jail time. The length of time you spend in jail depends on the intensity of your offense and your criminal history.
- You may also be held responsible for any monetary fixes and owe this to the owner. This also depends on the seriousness of the offense.
- You may also be charged fines suitable for the crime itself. These will be paid to the court.
Depending on the offense, you can be sentenced to just probation or probation on top of jail time.
If you or someone you know has been charged with vandalism, speak with a skilled Decatur criminal lawyer as soon as possible so that you may fight for the best possible outcome.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense cases and vandalism.