Ask ten people what it means to vandalize property, and you will likely hear ten different answers. In reality, many of those answers may be correct, as vandalism encompasses several different things. Understanding the crime of vandalism and the various levels of the offense and the punishments that can accompany the crime is important. This can help individuals understand how easily a prank can turn into criminal charges. The team at Free at Last Bail Bonds would like to share the following information about this crime.
What is the Definition of Vandalism?
Vandalism is the intentional destruction or damage of property belonging to others. Any act that decreases the value of property owned by another individual or entity can be classified as vandalism, as long as the act was intentional. To be clear, a minor car accident that damaged another person's bumper would not be considered vandalism, but spray painting the same bumper would.
What is the Most Serious Form of Vandalism?
Vandalism itself is not usually considered a serious crime, and will usually just result in misdemeanor charges. However, if the damage caused significant loss of value, then the crime could become a felony. It is often not the act of vandalism, but the accompanying actions that create a serious legal condition. For example, teenagers who paint graffiti on an abandoned house are committing vandalism, but if they paint racially charged language on a place of worship, they could be charged with a hate crime, which is far more severe. Likewise, throwing bottles against the side of a building is an act of vandalism, but if the person climbed a fence to get there, then trespassing may also be involved.
How is Vandalism Punished?
The punishment for the crime of vandalism depends on different factors. For one, the court will consider the extent of damage done. Another factor is the criminal record of the person accused of the crime. If it is a young person with no criminal history, the outcome could be probation, a brief period of community service and an order to repair or replace the damage. Someone with a criminal history, however, could receive jail time and fines reaching into the thousands of dollars. It is important to note that it is possible to mount a defense to vandalism charges, including an argument that the act was an expression of creative effort. As with any criminal charges, the best outcome usually occurs when the defendant is represented by a skilled criminal defense attorney. No one wants to have a criminal record, even for minor offenses such as defacing property.
If you or a loved one are charged with vandalism and need bail bond services, feel free to contact the team at Free at Last Bail Bonds. We are always here to answer any questions that you may have or to help you bail out of jail and begin preparing your defense.