What is it Called When You Damage Someone’s Property?

Damaging someone else’s property is a serious offense that carries legal consequences. Many people want to know the potential penalty for their crime, but they aren’t sure where to turn. After all, what is it actually called when you damage someone’s property? Knowing what it is called and what it could mean for you is the first step toward knowing your rights and the law itself.

There are several different terms that all relate to damaging someone else’s property. Law enforcement often uses these interchangeably, but they all fall under the general heading of vandalism. The other names for property damage include criminal damage, malicious trespass, or malicious mischief. Many of the offenders for a property-related crime like vandalism are juveniles, but these offenses have been decreasing over the years. In fact, they fell a percentage in some areas over the past decade.

Vandalism is a serious crime that is often broken down into multiple offenses including:

  • Spray painting property (including graffiti)
  • Egging or keying someone’s property
  • Destroying public property such as road signs, benches, or buildings
  • Slashing tires
  • Kicking or breaking property using your hands or feet
  • Breaking windows
  • Impairment of utility services
  • Desecration of a church, cemetery, or other monuments
  • Littering in some areas

As you can see, vandalism applies to personal property as well as public property. Any time that you damage something that does not belong to you with your hands, feet or another tool, you are committing an act of vandalism. This is a criminal offense, regardless of how minor or trivial it may have seemed to you.

Punishment for Vandalism Charges

The punishment for vandalism charges will vary depending on the severity of your offense. Minor damage is usually classified as a misdemeanor with less extensive penalties. You may serve a short jail sentence under one year or pay a fine. These fines are often relatively small. Keep in mind that having several small citations on your record can add up to bigger penalties in the future.

When the charges are more serious, you may be charged with a felony for your vandalism. This will involve larger fines and longer jail times that extend past the one-year mark. You may also experience felony charges if you are a repeat offender with multiple vandalism charges on your record.

Many offenders don’t realize that they may still have to pay to right the wrong that was done. This is referred to as criminal restitution, and the money is designed to help repair what was damaged. The victim receives this money directly to help make up for their overall loss of property or their economic loss during the time it was unable to be used.

When you have vandalism charges facing you, you deserve to know what your rights are and what the law is. You need criminal defence representation that knows exactly what you need. Give Matthew Gould a call today to get started on defending your case!