What Constitutes Vandalism?

Vandalism, which is the intentional damage to, or destruction of, another person’s property, can be charged as criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor, or criminal damage to property, which is a felony.

In ordinary speech, vandalism refers to intentionally damaging property that does not belong to you. For example, an act of vandalism might mean spray painting over a public sign, throwing raw eggs at someone’s house, or slashing the tires of someone’s car. The identifying characteristic of vandalism is that it causes the owner of the property to incur financial losses; it is still vandalism whether the damage can easily be repaired, or regardless of whether the owner of the property is a public entity, a business, or a private individual. Even though some people think of vandalism as a harmless prank, you can be charged criminally for it. In some cases, vandalism is a felony in Georgia. The Atlanta blue collar crimes attorneys at Zimmerman & Associates can help you if you are facing criminal charges for vandalism.

Penalties for Vandalism

If you are found guilty of destroying property valued at less than $500, without the consent of the owner of the property, this is the criminal offense known as criminal trespass. It is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a monetary fine, plus a jail sentence of up to one year. In practice, many defendants convicted of misdemeanors get probation instead of jail, especially if they take a plea deal or if they do not have any prior convictions on their record.

If the property damage is valued at more than $500, then you can be convicted of second-degree criminal damage to property. The same charge applies if you use fire or explosives to damage another person’s property, regardless of the dollar value of the property damage you cause. Second-degree criminal damage to property is a felony, and the maximum penalty is a monetary fine, plus one to five years in prison.

Other Criminal Offenses Related to Vandalism

The definition of criminal trespass includes vandalism of private property valued at less than $500, but it also includes defacing memorials and monuments to people who have served in the U.S. military. Charges of first-degree criminal damage to property apply if you intentionally damage a system of public communications, public transportation, or public utilities, such as water, sewage treatment, electricity, gas, or any component of one of these systems. First-degree criminal damage to property is a felony, and it carries a maximum sentence of a monetary fine, plus one to ten years in prison. You can also face additional charges if the property damage is severe enough to cause bodily injury or the immediate risk of bodily injury.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Vandalism Cases in Atlanta

An Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you if you are facing criminal charges for vandalism or intentional destruction of property that does not belong to you. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia to set up a free consultation.