Vandalism is often seen as a juvenile crime, but in Minnesota it carries stiff fines and penalties. A St. Paul criminal defense attorney often sees young people who face stiff fines and up to five years in prison when convicted of vandalism charges.
Vandalism can be something as minor as carving your initials into a tree, or as major as causing thousands of dollars in property damage. Because each incidence of vandalism is different, Minnesota prosecutes vandalism crimes in three different degrees.
First Degree Criminal Damage to Property
First-degree criminal damage to property is the most severe type of vandalism in Minnesota. When a person willfully and intentionally causes damage to another person’s property, they can be charged with first-degree vandalism. Charges can result if any or all of the following conditions are present:
- The damage involves a reasonable risk of bodily harm
- The property belongs to a common carrier, like a utility company, and the damage causes disruption in access to the public’s services
- The damage reduces the property’s value by more than $1,000
- The damage reduces the property’s value by more than $500 and the offender has a prior conviction for criminal damage to property
First degree criminal damage to property is a felony-level offense which requires legal representation by a St. Paul criminal defense attorney. It carries potential sentences of up to $10,000 in fines and up to five years in prison, as well as possible monetary penalties to pay back the property owner for property damages.
Second Degree Criminal Damage to Property
A second degree criminal damage to property charge may constitute a hate crime when it involves intentionally causing damage to another person’s property because of their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability or impairment. Although second degree criminal damage to property is a lesser vandalism offense, it still carries fines up to $3,000 and up to one year in prison.
Third Degree Criminal Damage to Property
Third degree criminal damage to property is the most common type of vandalism seen by a St. Paul criminal defense attorney in Minnesota. For third degree offenses, a person can receive fines up to $3,000 and up to one year in prison, or both, if the property value is reduced by more than $500, but not more than $1,000, as measured by the cost of repair and replacement.