A misdemeanor may sound like it doesn’t amount to much, but the criminal record that follows a person around isn’t worth the hassle.
One example of a misdemeanor happens to be vandalism, and in this poor economy, it seems to be on the rise as an outlet for some troubled youth. What better way to blow off steam than to paint the side of a building, a house or a bridge? “While it may seem just like a childish prank at the time, vandalism is actually a chargeable offense – a misdemeanor or other more serious charge,” said Jay F. Fortier of The Law Office of Jay F. Fortier, P.C., in Chicago, Illinois.
The legal definition of vandalism is the “willful or malicious destruction of public or private property.” “This particular definition covers a wide range of acts that would include graffiti, throwing eggs, damaging road signs, breaking windows, slashing tires, defacing a church, destroying mail boxes and keying another person’s property,” said Fortier. They may initially be seen as gang pranks, something to do for the fun of it. However, if caught, the perpetrators will face having to pay for the destruction caused.
Depending on the seriousness of the vandalism, charges may fall into either the misdemeanor class or kicked over to a felony. “What makes a vandalism charge a felony is the amount of damage done and whether or not there happens to be a previous criminal history,” outlined Fortier.
The differences in charges are usually based on the dollar value of damages. For instance, acts of destruction totaling $400 or less may be classified as a misdemeanor, which doesn’t require jail time. However, having said that, it may be just as likely to be given a year in jail plus a hefty fine, community service, restitution and possibly probation of some sort.
On the other hand, felony vandalism usually clocks in at over $400 with jail time attached to the sentencing, fines, extensive community service and formal probation. There are some instances where a driver’s license is suspended as well. This isn’t an area of the law that people should be messing around with, thinking that it’s all fun and games.
Facing vandalism charges requires the services of a qualified lawyer with experience in this area, such as The Law Office of Jay F. Fortier, P.C., in Chicago, Illinois. Don’t try and bluff through the charges, or the chance of having the whole thing backfire is quite high. A skilled attorney will evaluate the case and determine the best way to defend the charges.