Vandalism is a crime.
- Definitions vary within the 50 States. In most counties and communities it is described as malicious or willful destruction of private or public property without the consent of the property’s owner.
- Vandalism is seen by some as merely a prank. It is a crime and costs taxpayers millions of dollars to counteract.
Penalties for vandalizing property range in severity according to the damage and reasons for the damage.
- Criminals may be ordered to pay fines up to $250,000.
- Mandatory community service may be ordered.
- Incarceration upwards of a year is a common sentencing.
- Misdemeanor or Felony may be found and is punishable according to the vandalism done. If it is found that the vandalism was done because of a person’s race, religion, sexual preference, color, ancestry, disability or national origin will likely result in a Felony charge.
- Specified restitution may be ordered. This could include replacement of property and the labor to re-install it.
Types of Vandalism which are punishable by law are numerous.
- Broken windows
- Graffiti, from insignificant scribbles to huge paintings on buildings, walls, busses and trains
- Property theft
- Posting of leaflets, handbills and solicitations
- Damage to mailboxes, generally curbside models
- Destruction of playground equipment
- Damage to library books
- Campground vandalism
- Destroying beach facilities
- Defacing gravestones or grave sites
- Egging or toilet papering another’s property
Vandalism to Federal property is severely punished and includes damaging at:
- Mailboxes private and USPS
- National Parks
- Historic Sites
- Military Venues
- Post Offices
What can you do if your property is vandalized?
- Report suspicious behavior while it is happening by calling 911
- Report the make and license number of the vehicle involved to both your local police department and the United States Postal Inspection Service which keeps a data bank on crimes of mail theft and vandalism.
- Avoid the urge to retaliate
How can you help prevent vandalism?
- Invest in a steel locking mailbox to prevent your becoming a repeat victim
- Park your car in a well-lit area and of course keep it locked and clear or identifying information, purses, packages or other enticing items
- Place a Label 33 Warning sticker on your mailbox
- Agree with your neighbors to be vigilant
What to do if your child is charged with vandalism or you are vandalized
Contact a criminal defense attorney to find out what options are available to you.
As long as there are those who regard vandalism as just a prank and not a crime, the problem will surely continue to claim victims.