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Vandalism: Silly Pranks Could Lead to Serious Fines or Imprisonment

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, domestic violenceVandalism is defined as the act of damaging the property of another, which does not belong to you, and without the property owner’s authorization. Whenever you drive to work, or walk through the neighborhood, you see some form of vandalism on a daily basis. Vandalism can occur on public or private property. Graffiti can often be seen spray-painted on the outside of buildings, bridges, and abandoned automobiles. Sometimes, mailboxes are missing or found in pieces, shattered by baseball bats. Even throwing eggs on someone’s house or automobile is considered vandalism. Not only are acts of vandalism stupid, but also when they involve government property, they are serious crimes and cost taxpayers millions each year.

Commonly, vandalism is associated with disputes of the domestic nature. When individuals are engaged in an intimate relationship, the ex-partner might damage the others property in an attempt to get back at them. These attempts can be seen when the ex throws a brick through the former partner’s automobile window, or uses a key to scratch the outside of the automobile.

The Wisconsin state legislature takes vandalism—the damage or defacement of property — very seriously. The law enforcement community is cracking down on many types of vandalism. If you are facing charges or are under investigation for vandalism, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will help obtain a favorable result defending against these charges.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

Under Wisconsin law, vandalism is considered criminal damage to property and is defined as anyone who “intentionally causes damage to any physical property of another without the person’s consent.”

The prosecution is required to prove each and every element. In order to be convicted of criminal damage to property, the prosecutor must prove that you:
  1. Intentionally;
  2. Caused damage to the physical property of another; and
  3. Without that person’s consent.

Accidental acts of property damage, such as painting a fence on your neighbor’s property when you thought it was your fence, would not arise to vandalism because you did not intend to damage your neighbor’s property; instead, you thought it was your own.

The damage element covers any form of damage, from graffiti to posters, to striking mailboxes with bats to carving words into a wooden fence. Although most forms are permanent, some forms of temporary damage can also be considered vandalism.

The property that you damaged has to be owned by someone else. You cannot be charged with vandalizing your own property.

Penalties Associated with Vandalism

Wisconsin law classifies an act of vandalism as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to nine months imprisonment and fines up to$10,000. In certain circumstances, the vandalism can arise to a Class I felony, which carries up to three and half years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

Defenses to Vandalism

If you acted unintentionally, you cannot be charged with vandalism. Likewise, if you owned the property that was allegedly defaced, you cannot be guilty of vandalism. Lastly, consent to damage the property by the property owner would also be a viable defense to vandalism charges. If you are charged with vandalism, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney to avoid conviction. We are prepared to help you today.
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