Vandalism includes any willful behavior aimed at destroying, altering, or defacing property belonging to another. This may include graffiti found on billboards, defacing or destroying street signs, and building structures, broken windows, damage to vehicles like egging or keying, and even damage or destruction of a person’s website. While vandalism may be considered “art” by some, it is considered a crime against property. Vandalism, on its own, is often considered a non-violent crime that generally affects ones “quality of life”, but may escalate to more serious crimes.
Depending on the value of the property damage, vandalism is either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Penalties typically include fines, imprisonment in county jail, or both. If convicted, one may also be ordered to wash, repair or replace the damaged property (known as “restitution”), and/or participate in a program to clean up graffiti and other forms of vandalism. A parent of a minor child may be ordered to pay fines resulting from their child’s vandal behavior under what is called, a parental liability theory.
It is possible to be charged with vandalism even if one is not actually caught in the act, after the fact, should there be witnesses, surveillance, or other evidence that might implicate one with the crime.
Defenses to vandalism typically include circumstances that might “mitigate” or lesson the penalties, such as indifference, accident, mischief, or creative expression.
Make sure all the facts are presented correctly in your case to ensure the best possible outcome.
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