Sentencing For Vandalism

in Damage

What is Vandalism?

Anciently, vandalism was described as the ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable including defacement, graffiti and criminal damage.

Today, vandalism is described as the willful damage or defacement of the property of others or the commons without permission.

What Acts are Considered Vandalism?

  • The destruction of glass windows and doors
  • Defacement or destruction of political or marketing signage
  • Salting lawns, cutting trees without permission, egg and toilet paper throwing, arson, spraying paint on others' properties, tagging, gluing locks, tire slashing, keying (scratching) paint, ransacking a property and flooding a house by clogging a sink and leaving the water running
  • Damaging monuments or statues, National Parks, mailboxes, USPS boxes
  • Damaging street signs with bullet holes
  • Graffiti of any sort
  • Carving into wood, stone or a tree with a knife

Who Gets What Punishment?


  • Adults' punishments for vandalism are based upon such facts as the dollar amount of the damage done and the vandal's past history, such as prior convictions. If the dollar amount is between $250 and $2,000, the crime is a class 6 felony.  If the vandal is discovered with drugs, for example, there may be additional charges resulting in more than one sentencing.
  • If the damage is less than $250 it is considered a class 2 misdemeanor.
  • The severity and amount of the damage determines whether the crime is a class 6 felony which includes fines of up to $150.000 and a year of jail time.  A class 2 misdemeanor carries a fine of not more than $1,500 and six months in jail.


  • For first-time offenders, the punishment may be community service hours – cleaning up graffiti, tagging or other types of vandalism. I t is considered a misdemeanor and generally includes making restitution to the property owner.
  • If it is not the juvenile's first offense, sentencing will be stiffer and may include fines and jail time such as detention in a juvenile facility and up to 3 years of probation.  The severity of the crime and the specific target of the vandalism also drive sentencing.
  • Courts often include fines of $500 or more, expulsion from school and counseling.
  • The courts hope that first-time offenders will be forever deterred from vandalism after completion of their sentences. In many cases, this works.
  • Juveniles are assured that vandalism is not a harmless prank or a brave rite of passage, but serious crimes that carry heavy penalties depending of the specific target of vandalism.
  • The bottom line admonition to juveniles is "If you do not own it, do not deface it. Vandalism is a crime. It may be a Federal, State or Municipal court that will determine punishment.



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Jane Hercules has 1 articles online

Jane Hercules, MS Ed is an expert in the prevention of mail theft and mailbox vandalism. She is a teacher and long-time advocate for children. She believes that in today's world there are measures adults must take to secure the well-being and future of their families. Identity theft is increasing and there are ways to prevent it.

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Sentencing For Vandalism

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This article was published on 2011/03/30