Destruction of property is one of the most common property-related crimes that people are charged with in Virginia. It can include a wide range of actions, such as vandalism, removing or damaging property, domestic violence disputes, and protesting. If you have been charged with this crime, here is what you need to know about the elements of this crime and the penalties you may face if you are convicted.
What Constitutes Destruction of Property in Virginia?
Virginia Code § 18.2-137 makes it a crime to damage any personal or real property that is not one’s own property without the intent to steal it. The damage to the property does not need to be serious for this offense to be committed.
It is considered destruction of property to break down, destroy, deface, damage or remove another’s property. Property that falls under this law includes any personal or real property and also these specific properties:
- Monument or memorial for war Veterans
- Monuments marking engagements during the Civil War
- Boundaries of a city, town, or property or a tree that has been marked for this purpose
Destruction of property can be charged as a misdemeanor if the value of the property is less than $1,000 or a felony if the property is valued at more than $1,000. There is also a distinction under the law for unlawful and illegal or intentional actions. Here are three common offenses a person could be charged with:
- Unlawful damage. If the property was unlawfully damaged and valued at less than $1,000, the crime would be a Class 3 misdemeanor.
- Intentional damage less than $1,000. If the property was deliberately damaged and worth less than $1,000, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Intentional damage more than $1,000. If the accused intentionally damaged the property and it was worth more than $1,000, they could be charged with a Class 6 felony.
Penalties for Destruction of Property in Virginia
The penalties for destruction of property will be more serious if the damaged property’s value was more than $1,000 and the offender’s actions were intentional. If convicted of this crime, a person could be sentenced to the following:
- Class 3 misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500
- Class 1 misdemeanor: Up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500
- Class 6 felony: One to five years in prison, or, in the court’s discretion, up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
In addition, the court could require the individual to pay restitution for the property that was damaged or destroyed.
Were you charged with destruction of property in Manassas? You face harsh, long-term consequences if you are convicted. Let our experienced criminal defense attorneys build a strong defense for you. To learn more about how we can protect your rights, call our office or start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.