Are you facing Vandalism Charges? Get the bet Vandalism Defense available!
If you have are charged with a vandalism crime in Hampshire County or Franklin County, you are facing the possibility of jail or prison time, hefty fines, community service and other significant penalties. You could even have your Massachusetts driver’s license suspended for up to one year.
A criminal conviction on your record is also never a good thing. It can damage your reputation and rob you of opportunities in the future. For the best vandalism defense, you need to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
What is Vandalism?
In Massachusetts, it is a crime to destroy, deface, damage or disfigure public or private property without the consent of the owner. Crimes of vandalism have the potential to cost communities millions of dollars each year in clean-up efforts and can cause emotional damage to property owners as well. Because of these repercussions, local law enforcement is aggressively pursuing and holding them accountable. Those faced with criminal charges need to put up a good fight for their vandalism defense, as a former prosecutor, Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas Kokonowski has the experience that you need.
Known Acts of Vandalism
- “tagging” — spray painting or putting stickers on signs, gravestones, buildings or other public or private property
- keying or scratching the paint off a car
- slashing someone’s tires
- defacing a park bench
- damaging playground equipment or other municipal property
- defacing gravestones
- breaking windows
- altering or knocking down street signs
- behavior aimed at someone due to their race, color, religion, national original, sexual orientation gender identity, or disability
- using slurs/writing racist or sexist graffiti on school property
- etching a swastika on someone’s car
- damage to federal property: mailboxes, national parks, monuments, historical locations, military operations, post offices, etc
Misdemeanor or Felony?
Depending on the intent of committing the crime and the value of the property damage, vandalism classes vary as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. A vandalism lawyer can assess your situation and counsel you on your best criminal defense options.
If the damage is inexpensive and it was your first offense, it will typically be a misdemeanor. For more costly damages and acts involving gang-related activities or hate crimes, the charge will most likely be a felony. Damage to a school, house of worship, or cemetery is an automatic felony.
Vandalism can rise to being a hate crime when behavior is aimed at religious or minority groups, such as a church or synagogue, writing racist or sexist graffiti on school property or etching a swastika in a car.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Vandalism Offense
- up to one year in jail
- making restitution to the victim
- community service
- up to 3 years informal probation
Penalties for Felony Vandalism Offense
For a felony, penalties range from:
- jail up to three years
- formal probation
- community service
- fines up to $5,000
- potential suspension of driver’s license
- creation of a permanent criminal record
Malicious Destruction of Property
Other closely related charges to vandalism include malicious and wanton destruction of property.
If you destroyed or injured another person’s property in a manner considered to be “willful and *malicious,” and the damage exceeded $250, you are facing a felony charge punishable by:
- up to 10 years in prison
- fine of $3,000 or 3 times the amount of the damage caused, whichever is greater,
- Incarceration in the county house of correction for up to 2½ years
*The term “malicious” refers to causing damage out of hostility, revenge, or cruelty
Malicious destruction of property under $250 is punishable by:
- A penalty of three times the value of the damage to the property
- Up to 2 ½ months imprisonment
Wanton Destruction of Property
In addition to the malicious destruction of property, Massachusetts prohibits wanton destruction of property over $250.
If you acted “wantonly” or with a reckless or conscious disregard for the likelihood of causing substantial harm or damage, you are facing
- maximum of 2 ½ years in prison
- fine of $1,500 or three times the value of the loss, whichever is greater
Get the Vandalism Defense you need, when you need it most
Criminal defense attorney Tom Kokonowski has the skill and experience you need to protect your rights and deliver a favorable outcome for your case. Call today to schedule a free consultation. For Northampton: 413-585-9200 For Amherst: 413-549-0022