Vandalism may not sound like a major offense. Unfortunately, in some cases, the penalties can be very harsh. Particularly for juveniles who are charged with this type of criminal act, serious consequences can haunt them for years to come.
There are many defenses available to fight vandalism charges in North Carolina. At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we’re in your corner. A Raleigh vandalism attorney from our firm can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and craft a solid defense strategy for you. Many times, we are able to get vandalism charges dropped or argue for minimal penalties. Our goal will be to obtain the best possible outcome in your particular case.
Contact us now to schedule a consultation, and get a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side.
How a Vandalism Attorney Can Help You
If you are facing vandalism charges, you should not try to fight them alone. There are many ways a vandalism attorney can help you, including:
- Assessing your case and determining whether there’s an option to get the charges dropped
- Evaluating whether your charge could be reduced to a lesser charge, with lesser consequences
- Preparing a defense strategy that picks apart the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
- Gathering evidence and important witness statements to support your case
- Negotiating a plea bargain, when appropriate
- Representing you at trial, if necessary
- Providing insight into the entire process so you always know what to expect
- Explaining the rules and laws that apply to your case and answering all your questions
When you work with the right vandalism attorney, you will have an advocate by your side who will protect your rights and argue your case effectively.
Common Defenses Against Vandalism Charges
Facing vandalism charges is scary, but the situation is not hopeless. There are common defenses that a skilled attorney can use in vandalism cases.
In order to be charged with vandalism in North Carolina, a person must have the intent to destroy property. If there is no intent, there is no crime committed. For example, if you leaned against a person’s car while talking to them and scratched it, you did not have the intent to damage the property. As such, you cannot be charged with vandalism.
Another common defense to vandalism is mistaken identity. Sometimes, law enforcement and the prosecution simply get it wrong. This defense is most successful when you have an alibi. When using the alibi defense, someone else will testify that you were with them at the time the crime was committed.
What Is Vandalism?
Vandalism is the act of willfully damaging or destroying the property of another person. When a person is charged with vandalism, he or she may be charged with:
- Willful and wanton injury to personal property. Personal property is any type of property that is movable, such as vehicles.
- Willful and wanton injury to real property. Real property is fixed property that cannot be moved, such as trees, buildings, and land.
There are many offenses in North Carolina related to vandalism. These include damage to portable toilets or pumper trucks; damage to trees, crops, or land of another person; damage to caves; damage to landmarks; and vandalism of human remains.
When Is Vandalism a Misdemeanor?
In North Carolina, most vandalism cases are considered a misdemeanor.
- When the vandalism involves graffiti, the charge is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor. (Note that graffiti does not have to be done with spray paint. Any intentional mark, even if it’s made by pen or marker, can be considered graffiti.)
- Class 1 misdemeanor charges may also be laid when there is damage to real property, whether it is public or private property.
- If the damage was to personal property, the accused will face Class 2 misdemeanor charges. This is true whether or not the property was actually destroyed. When the damage caused is valued at over $200, though, those charges may be upgraded to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Vandalizing caves is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
When Is Vandalism a Felony?
There are instances when a person could face felony charges for vandalism.
The most common scenario for a felony vandalism charge is when the accused has prior vandalism convictions. When a person has two or more prior convictions of vandalism, felony charges are laid.
Additionally, when a person is accused of vandalizing human remains, he or she will also face felony charges.
Punishment for Vandalism
Vandalism may sound like a minor crime, but the penalties can be very serious for those convicted. Although individuals facing misdemeanor charges will likely not face jail time, they will be fined at least $500 and will likely have to perform at least 24 hours of community service. (If the individual is sentenced to jail time, he or she will likely not also have to perform community service.)
When a person faces felony charges, the associated penalties are much more severe. Depending on the extent of damage and prior convictions a person may have, a felony vandalism conviction can mean at least a few months in jail. The fines associated with a felony charge are also typically much higher.
Of course, one of the most serious penalties associated with vandalism, regardless of whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, is that convicted individuals will be left with a permanent criminal record. That has extremely serious consequences, as it could prevent you from obtaining employment, housing, and even academic opportunities in the future.
Talk to a Vandalism Attorney Now
At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we know that being charged with vandalism doesn’t necessarily mean you will be convicted of those charges. We also know that innocent people are charged with offenses all the time. Particularly in vandalism cases, those accused may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Our Raleigh vandalism attorneys have the necessary experience to aggressively argue for your charges to be reduced or dropped altogether. We will fight for your rights every step of the way during the criminal justice process. Contact us now to schedule a meeting with one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys, so we can begin crafting a strong defense against the vandalism charges you are facing.