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Understanding vandalism charges in New York

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2020 | Property Crimes

Vandalism is a common offense for which people can face arrest in New York, whether it involves damaging someone’s property or spray painting a building.

Understanding why people may engage in this activity and what the potential consequences are can help readers appreciate the importance of defending against the charges.

Motivations behind vandalism

There are numerous reasons why a person might intentionally damage, desecrate or deface someone’s property.

    • Political motivations – Someone might vandalize property to express their political viewpoint or to comment on another person’s position. Politics are a hot button issue right now, and many people use graffiti or destruction of property as a commentary on what is happening.
    • Creative motivations – Covering up signs, painting walls or posting advertisements on someone else’s property can be something people do as a creative outlet. They may be trying to get their work seen by others or share specific messages.
    • Social motivations – Some people tamper with consumer products or deface property in the interest of gaining acceptance from others. Their audience could be the friends they hang out with, followers on social media, or groups to which they belong.

Understanding why someone might commit a property crime can help people respond to the charges appropriately. But no matter how noble a person’s motivation may or may not have been for vandalizing property, he or she could wind up facing harsh consequences.

Criminal consequences for vandalism

The exact penalties for a property crime depend on the offense. In New York, there are multiple classes of a criminal mischief violation, which includes vandalism.

On one end of the spectrum are Class A misdemeanors, which include:

    • Making graffiti
    • Damaging property
    • Destroying abandoned buildings

Class A misdemeanor offenses can result in up to a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

On the other end of the spectrum are serious felonies. A person could face felony charges for:

    • Using explosives to damage property
    • Causing property damage costing more than $1,500 (a class D felony)
    • Causing property damage costing more than $250 (a class E felony)
    • Putting others at substantial risk of serious injury by tampering with a consumer product

These offenses can result in higher fines and lengthier detention sentences. In some cases, a person could face up to 25 years in prison.

Vandalism charges at any level can be devastating. However, you can protect yourself by defending against charges to avoid conviction.