Pranks and practical jokes are funny – until someone has to go to jail. Unfortunately, this is the reality for some individuals who do things that deface someone else's property. It is important to avoid any activities that might lead to vandalism charges.
There are many aspects of these charges that must be considered when you are trying to figure out if something is going to run afoul of the law. All of these can have an impact on whether you will face criminal charges.
Does vandalism always destroy property?
It isn't necessary for the property to be destroyed for you to face a vandalism charge. Instead, it only needs to be altered from its normal state. Throwing toilet paper in trees or egging a home or vehicle can lead to criminal charges. Another form of vandalism is graffiti. While this is often called a work of art, it is a criminal act unless the owner of the property has given you permission to paint. Even knocking street signs over falls under this crime. Scratching or keying property, kicking or punching something or breaking the windows are also covered here.
What kinds of penalties can I face?
The value of the item damaged, the extent of the damage and other similar factors all have a part in what types of penalties you might face for this property crime. Typically, you are looking at time in jail, fines, restitution and similar penalties. In some cases, probation or community service might be possible. Your defense should be structured to address these possibilities, as well as the outcome of the case.