Vandalism is a serious charge and the consequences if convicted are stiff.
An interesting example of vandalism happened at Eastern Michigan University in 2016.
The defendant in the case pleaded guilty in April 2018 to vandalizing several campus buildings with racist messages targeting the black community at EMU. Here’s the twist: the defendant, Eddie Curlin, is black.
It was no doubt a relief to campus authorities to find that the racist messages were self-serving rather than hateful.
Curlin pleaded guilty to spray painting messages on three different walls around campus.
Investigators believe he was attempting to act as an informant for that crime in order to have some previous charges dropped and be reinstated as a student at EMU.
Vandalism Charges in Michigan
In Michigan, vandalism is called “Malicious Destruction of Property” and, depending on the cost of damage done, it could be charged as a felony. Acts of vandalism:
- spray painting walls
- keying cars
- egging windows
- and more destructive acts other than setting fire to something
According to Michigan Penal Code 750.377a, willful and malicious destruction of property that belongs to someone else is punishable according to the amount of damage you inflict.
Penalty for Destruction of property under $200
For destruction of property under $200, the crime is a misdemeanor. Possible penalties include a 93-day jail sentence, and/or a fine of $500 or up to three times the value.
Penalty for Destruction of Property Worth between $200 and $1,000
For destruction of property worth between $200 and $1,000, the crime is a misdemeanor. Penalties include fines up to $2,000 or three times the value and/or up to one year in jail.
Penalty for Destruction of Property Valued Between $1,000 and $20,000 / Second Offense
For destruction of property valued between $1,000 and $20,000 or a second offense of vandalism of property valued between $200 and $1,000, the crime is considered a felony. Penalties include fines of up to $10,000 or three times the value and/or up to five years in prison.
Penalty for Destruction of Property Valued at More Than $20,000 / Two Prior Convictions
For destruction of property valued at more than $20,000 or after two prior convictions for property damage and the third involves property valued between $1,000 and $20,000 the crime is considered a felony. Penalties include $15,000 in fines or up to three times the value and/or ten years in prison.
Prosecutors Must Prove Beyond Reasonable Doubt
If prosecutors can prove it, the amount of damage you inflicted over a 12 month period adds up to one severe sentence.
However, to prove it was vandalism, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in willful and malicious destruction of property.
If it was an accident, it can’t be charged as vandalism. Additionally, if you destroyed something with good intentions it doesn’t count because it wasn’t malicious. For example, if you smashed in someone’s car window to rescue a trapped person after a car accident.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Lawyer
Vandalism can have serious consequences. You might think you are just playing around. However, if you have charges brought against you because of it, you may face harsh fines and prison time.
A conviction can also affect your future employment and college applications to name just a few consequences.
It’s crucial to obtain the services of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer if you’re facing vandalism charges in Michigan.