Vandalism may seem like a minor offense, but it can lead to significant fines and jail time. There are many forms of vandalism that can be committed, and the penalties for each can vary between states.
Defacing the property of another party can cause you to be charged with vandalism. Having the right legal team in place can help you protect your rights and avoid the consequences that it can have on both your personal and professional lives.
Vandalism consists of the damage to property that results in its defacement and loss of value. It can range from minor offenses such as placing stickers or signs on a piece of property to causing physical damage to automobiles or buildings.
In the state of Georgia, the level of damages that were caused will determine what charge is applied.
A felony charge results from damages that exceed $500 in most cases. But most vandalism acts are misdemeanors that lead to fines and a maximum of one year in jail.
Prison sentences lasting longer than one year and more significant fines can be applied if the damages are extensive and costly.
In general, severe physical damage often falls under the category of “destruction of property”, which may not be the same as vandalism. This will vary between states, and consulting with an attorney will help you determine what charges you may be facing.
Also, the laws in Georgia classify some acts as criminal damage to property or criminal trespassing. Understanding the difference is essential to preparing your legal defense.
Penalties in Vandalism Cases
As mentioned, costly fines and lengthy jail sentences may result from a vandalism charge. Previous convictions and other offenses may result in even longer sentences and increased fines.
These fines are typically paid to the courts and can reach as high as $25,000 or more in some cases. Defendants may also be obligated to pay restitution, which is a payment made to the owner of the property for damages.
Community service and probation are other potential penalties that you may face. Community service requires the guilty party to spend a defined number of hours providing some service through a volunteer or community service program.
Probation is applied in place of jail time and places certain restrictions on individuals. Probation may prohibit you from participating in certain activities as well as subject you to community service, drug testing, and other obligations.
The elements that constitute vandalism include physical damage that has intentionally been caused. This includes defacement through the use of graffiti, carving, writing, and the placement of unsolicited posters and signs.
It must be shown that the defendant acted with the full intention to cause damage to the property. Accidental damage does not qualify as vandalism.
Finally, the property in question must be owned by another party in order for the act to be classified as vandalism. It must also be committed in the absence of any permission granted by the owner.
Vandalism convictions only occur once it’s been proven that all of these aspects are present.
Your attorney can help you gather and evaluate any evidence that has been gathered in relation to your case. Together, you can determine the best options for your defense and understand the potential penalties that you may face.
Having the right resources is critical to protecting your rights and defending yourself from a vandalism charge in the state of Georgia.