Many individuals in Florida do not understand that vandalism and property damage are very serious criminal offenses. According to Florida law, if a person willfully and maliciously damages some else’s property, he can be charged with a variety of offenses, including:
Arson – Intentionally damaging any building through the use of fire or an explosion. An individual can be charged with first or second-degree arson, depending upon whether another person was in the building at the time of the offense and if the offender knew the person was there.
Burglary – Entering a structure, dwelling, building, motor vehicle, ship, railroad car, or aircraft that is closed to the public with the intent to commit a crime, or lawfully entering a building and remaining there after they are no longer allowed with the intention of committing a crime. Breaking and entering is a form of burglary.
Criminal Mischief – Willfully and maliciously damaging any real or personal property belonging to someone else. Anyone who commits vandalism (willfully and maliciously destroying public or private property) or graffiti can be charged with criminal mischief.
Criminal Trespass – Willfully entering or remaining in a structure or building without being authorized, licensed, or invited to be there. Breaking and entering can be considered criminal trespass.
Potential Penalties for Vandalism and Property Damage Crimes
The charge and penalties for vandalism and property crimes depend upon the degree and type of damage committed:
- Second-degree misdemeanor – Damage valued at under $200, punishable by 60 days in jail and $500 fine
- First-degree misdemeanor – Damage is between $200 and $1000, punishable by up to one year in jail and $1000 fine
- Third-degree felony – Damage valued at more than $1000, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5000.
Property Damage Involving Graffiti
If vandalism and property damage involves graffiti, the mandatory minimum fines are:
- First conviction – $250
- Second conviction – $500
- Third conviction – $1000
In addition to the minimum fines, the penalty for a graffiti conviction will include a minimum of 40 hours of community service and up to $100 hours, which will involve working to remove the graffiti.
If you have been charged with vandalism or some other property damage crime, Attorney H. Kyle Fletcher will advise you of your rights. Your initial consultation is free – call us at 407-971-4727 or contact us online today.