Vandalism Defense Lawyers
Vandalism is defined as an intentional, and often times malicious, damaging or destruction of the property of another person, and vandalism is a prevalent crime in the state of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Being the victim of vandalism can be a costly and inconvenient process, and those who do find themselves with destroyed or damaged property at the hands of another should be entitled to compensation to have their property replaced or repaired.
Vandalism Laws in Pennsylvania
Vandalism most often happens to vehicles parked on Pennsylvania streets, statues, buildings, and homes and these acts can vary from complete destruction, to graffiti, to the breaking of windows or entryways. Repairing or replacing property that has been vandalized can cost the property owners a great deal of money and the effects of vandalism can be devastating.
Acts of vandalism are most often carried out by juveniles throughout the state of Pennsylvania, although the state does not discern acts of vandalism by age. Vandalism most commonly carries criminal mischief charges that will be the same if the act is carried out by an underaged person or an adult. These crimes are most often committed near where teenagers gather, such as high schools or popular hangout spots, and there are many reasons why a juvenile may decide to vandalize local property.
Reasons why Juveniles Carry Out Acts of Vandalism
Vandalism is an easy to commit act that can give young people an adrenaline rush. Not only do they get to make their mark, so to speak, in a public fashion, but the thrill of trying not to get caught will often cause teens to engage in these behaviors. Teens will often find themselves stricken with boredom in their communities, and vandalizing a piece of property unfortunately provides some youth with the bit of excitement they are looking for.
Also, peer pressure is typically found in committing these acts, and juveniles will often vandalize in groups. Through a yearning for acceptance, a young person may vandalize some type of property in order to gain attention or a heightened social status from their peer group. One way to combat this cause of vandalism is to provide young people with the acceptance they need to feel at home, while teaching them that rising above peer pressures and standing on their own will provide them with a better overall quality of life.
Another common cause of vandalism is anger or rage, and young people who feel they have been wronged in some way by an individual or business may act out on these feelings by vandalizing property. A teen who feels they need to gain a sense of revenge may decide to take their anger out on their offending party’s property, which is also a way they can feel validated by the situation.
No matter the specific cause for juveniles committing acts of vandalism in the state of Pennsylvania, it happens frequently across the state.
Penalties and Charges for Vandalism in Pennsylvania
There are 3 key charges that an individual will most likely face when being charged for vandalizing property. These charges vary with the monetary value of the damage done, and vandalism can carry hefty felony charges. Vandalism charges incurred after damaging property may be:
- 3rd Degree Felony Criminal Mischief – 3rd degree felony criminal mischief is reserved for acts of vandalism which are valued at over $5,000 or interfere with public utilities, public services, public transportation, or public communication systems. These offenses will be the most likely to carry the most serious penalties.
- 2nd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief – If damages to a property exceed $1000, but do not go up to $5,000, a 2nd degree misdemeanor criminal mischief charge may be faced.
- 3rd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief – 3rd degree misdemeanor criminal mischief will be charged if the damage to the property is more than $500 in value, or if the cost of the cleaning of graffiti exceeds $150.
While the charges are typically one of the aforementioned 3 for acts of vandalism, the penalties incurred will vary depending on if the individual who committed the act is a juvenile or adult. However, no matter the age of the person, they will still be held to these charge guidelines, and if a juvenile’s act of vandalism exceeds a value of $5,000 they are still likely to face felony charges.
For an adult who commits a felony act of vandalism, he or she could face up to 7 years in prison plus fines. The state of Pennsylvania gives out some of the harshest penalties for vandalism acts of this severity. For 2nd degree misdemeanor criminal mischief charges, an adult can face up to 2 years in prison plus any other fines that a court may deem necessary. In cases of 3rd degree criminal mischief stemming from an act of vandalism, a person could face up to 1 year in jail.
For juveniles, the juvenile court system is in charge of doling out penalties relating to the acts of vandalism at hand. In nearly all juvenile vandalism cases, restitution will be ordered to be paid to the victim of the act, and along with this may come detention, probation, or fines.
When a person is faced with vandalism charges, or finds themselves the victim of vandalism, it is important that they seek the assistance of a Pennsylvania attorney in their case. This will allow them to have the fairest possible trial, and in the case of the victim, the fairest amount of compensation to repair their property.
Contact a Vandalism Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania
If you find yourself facing charges of vandalism in Pennsylvania, do not hesitate to contact the Defense Lawyers at Donze and Donze. Set up your appointment now by calling their Kennet Square Law Office at 610-444-8018 or by emailing our staff directly.