Property Damage / Malicious Damage
Property crimes involving the damage of goods are often viewed as less serious than other offenses. While it’s true that crimes like malicious damage won’t get you a life sentence, they can put you in prison. When up against a potential like this, it’s important to have someone on your side with your best interests in mind.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
There are many criminal offenses that can be categorized as property damage offenses–so many that not all of them are listed here. If you are facing charges of malicious damage, tagging, or defacement of property, call me today.
Massachusetts Malicious Damage Laws
Malicious damage is the most commonly charges property damage offense in the state of Massachusetts. It is applicable when you are accused of damaging or destroying the property of another. The charge and potential penalty you face, however, depends on how you acted at the time of the offense.
The law states that if you act “willfully and maliciously” or with negative intentions, you can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $3,000 or 3 times the amount of damage caused, whichever is greater.
However, if you acted “wantonly” or not with direct negative intentions (similar to carelessly), you can face up to 2 ½ years and fines of $1,500 or three times the value, whichever is greater.
Ref: MGL c.266 §127
Destruction of Certain Buildings
If you are charged with doing damage to one of the following types of buildings, you could face slightly higher penalties than a simple malicious damage charge:
- Community Center
- Church, Synagogue, or other house of worship,
The penalty you face for damage to these buildings depends on the value of the damage. For instance, if the damage is valued at less than $5,000, you can face 2 ½ years in jail and a fine of $2,000 or 3 times the value of the damage, whichever is greater.
If the value is more than $5,000 you can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 or 3 times the damaged value in fines.
Ref: MGL c.266 §127A
Graffiti is defined as willfully or maliciously painting, marking, scratching, etching or otherwise marking or defacing the property of another. This property doesn’t have to be something of much value. A rock or fence would qualify for this charge.
If convicted of this charge, you could be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison and fines. You may also be required to pay for the removal of the graffiti.
A graffiti conviction will also get your driver’s license suspended for up to one year.
Ref: MGL c.266 §126A
Similar to a graffiti charge, tagging involves etching, signing, or painting your name, moniker, initials or other “tag” on someone else’s property. It is sometimes associated with gang activity, which is why tagging is punished and prosecuted more harshly than one might expect.
Tagging is a felony offense in Massachusetts which carries a potential 2 years in prison and a fine of up more than $1,500 but less than 3 times the value of the damage.
A tagging conviction will also warrant a one year driver’s license suspension.
Ref: MGL c.266 §126B
Charges like these are nothing to be taken lightly. Whether you have a reasonable explanation for your actions or you deny your guilt, I can help. Contact me to discuss the details of your case today.
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