Vandalism is willfully and maliciously destroying or defacing the property of another. Additionally, if you obstruct the use of another’s property, you could also face prosecution for Vandalism. Under Rhode Island criminal law, Vandalism may be found under Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-44-1.
Legal Elements of Vandalism
In order to be convicted of Vandalism, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant injured, destroyed, wrote upon, painted or otherwise defaced property or obstructed the use of property
- that property belonged to another person
- and the defendant did so willfully and maliciously or mischievously
Examples of Vandalism
Vandalism is usually charged when someone destroys or damages property in a manner that defaces, mars, or otherwise adds a physical blemish that diminishes the property’s value. This sometimes is also known as graffiti or tagging, which are both considered vandalism. Some examples of vandalism include the following:
- Putting a bumper sticker on another person’s car.
- Spray-painting your name on another person’s fence, home or building.
- Carving your initials into public park trees or public benches.
- Writing your name on a store window with a marker.
- Keying a car or puncturing its tires.
- Breaking a building’s windows.
- Knocking over grave markers.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Vandalism in Rhode Island
Under Rhode Island criminal law, Vandalism is a misdemeanor offense. Convicted offenders may be punished by imprisonment for not more than 1 year and shall be liable to make restitution for the injury or damage caused. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-44-1.
If the property injured or defaced was a public building or public property, the defendant shall be fined not less than $100 unless the amount of damage exceeds $100. If the damage exceeds $100, then he or she shall be punished by a fine which is not less than 3 times the amount of the damage or not more than $500, or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year. In addition to any sentence imposed, the convicted offender shall be ordered to make restitution in the full amount for the damages caused. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-44-12.
Determining Restitution in a Vandalism or Other Property Crime Case
Restitution is the payment of money by a defendant to a party adversely impacted financially by the defendant’s actions. When dealing with damaged or defaced property, restitution is often equal to cost associated with repairing the property or restoring it to the condition it was in before the defendant committed the crime. When dealing with completely destroyed property, restitution may be the cost to replace the property or the property’s fair market value, if able to be determined. Where the parties agree on the amount of restitution, a court or judge will typically order it as a condition of a criminal sentence of a property offense conviction. If the parties cannot agree on a restitution amount, the court may conduct restitution it will receive evidence and testimony regarding property value, replacement cost, and cost of repairs.
If you have been charged with Vandalism and need representation, contact the Rhode Island Property Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.