What is vandalism?

Teenage pranks like egging and graffiti can lead to very serious legal charges. Pop singer Justin Bieber ran into this type of legal trouble last year. It all stemmed from a night filled with expletives and egging of a neighbor's home. The next day there was a visit from the police and thousands of dollars in damage to the neighbor's home.

Egging is a form of vandalism. Vandalism is one of the property crimes outlined in the Georgia state statutes. It is defined as the destruction or defacement of someone's property without permission. It can range from graffiti to broken windows. Vandalism is not just the act of destroying property, anyone found with the tools to commit the act may also be charged with vandalism depending on the law of the jurisdiction.

The purpose of vandalism laws are to protect property from destruction. Depending on the type of vandalism, it can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penalties can range from fines to imprisonment. For example, vandalism to a place of worship in Georgia is defined as a malicious defacement or desecration to a place of worship. A place of worship can be classified as a church, synagogue or other places of public religious worship. A person found guilty of this may face up to five years in prison.

Defenses to vandalism involve mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances will decrease the penalties to these crimes. Indifference, accident or artistic expression could be mitigating circumstances. An individual who is facing a charge of vandalism should seek the advice of legal counsel.

Source: FindLaw, "Vandalism," last visited June 15, 2015

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