What Is The Offense Of Criminal Damage To Property?

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Most people understand that when someone damages another person’s property, they may face civil liability. For example, after a car accident, one driver can file a claim against the negligent motorist to claim compensation for damage to their vehicle, as well as their other losses. There are times, though, when property damage is a criminal matter. In these cases, the consequences are far more serious for those accused of damaging someone else’s property. Below, our Monroe criminal defense lawyer explains further.

What is Considered Property Under the Law?

Property is simply anything that is owned by another person. Property can include someone’s vehicle, home, phone, television, and even pets. When a property is under someone’s name, no one has the right to it and in fact, cannot even touch it without first obtaining the owner’s consent.

No matter how valuable or invaluable property is, malicious damage to it is considered a criminal offense. In fact, even when the property is not damaged maliciously, any attempt to destroy or damage it is considered a criminal offense.  This is due to the fact that attempting to damage another person’s property could result in actual damage being done and a much more serious outcome. To be charged with the crime of criminal property damage, a person must have intent.

Simple Criminal Property Damage

Simple criminal damage to property refers to the intentional damage of any property that belongs to someone else, except in the case of fire. Common examples of simple criminal property damage include graffiti on schools or businesses, egging someone else’s property, or slashing a vehicle’s tires. When the damage is valued at less than $1,000, a person will face a misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by up to six months in jail.

When the property damage is valued at more than $1,000 but it is less than $50,000, felony charges will apply. A conviction carries a potential sentence of up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Criminal property damage valued at more than $50,000 carries a possible sentence of between one to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Aggravated Criminal Property Damage

Aggravated property damage is a much more serious criminal offense. Aggravated property damage refers to when someone intentionally damages another person’s property without their permission, and there is the foreseeable chance that someone could become injured as a result. Common types of aggravated criminal property damage are knocking a headstone over, removing valuable writing or copper piping from a home, or withholding food or water from livestock intentionally.

Anyone convicted of aggravated property damage will spend at least one year, and up to 15 years, in prison. A conviction for this offense also carries the penalty of a maximum fine up to $10,000.

Speak to Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Monroe for Help with Your Case

A charge of criminal property damage should be taken very seriously. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our Monroe criminal defense attorney can defend against these charges so your future is protected. Call us now at 318-594-3592 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.

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