Boston Attorney for Defense Against Charges of Vandalism
Vandalism occurs when a person deliberately destroys or damages public or private property. For instance, a spraypainted tag on the side of a building would be considered vandalism. Similarly, setting fire to a portion of a monument could result in vandalism charges. If you were charged with vandalism, you need a trustworthy Boston criminal defense lawyer. Ryan P. Sullivan may be able to represent you. He has more than a decade of experience fighting for best results.
What Must Be Proven With a Vandalism Charge?
Vandalism exists when someone willfully and maliciously or wantonly destroying or defacing another person’s real or personal property. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 126A criminalizes vandalism and defines what types of acts are considered vandalism. Under this code section, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you: (1) deliberately painted, put upon, or in some way affixed, (2) to a structure, fence, rock, pole or other object that was either public property or someone else’s private property, (3) words, devices, trademarks, advertisements, or notices that were not required by law to be posted there, (3) without first getting the written consent of the public officer or owner of the property.
There must be substantial evidence that your acts were intentional or willful. Your actions will be regarded as willful if you not only intended the conduct, but also its injurious consequences. Malicious actions are those taken out of hostility, cruelty or revenge, not simply deliberately. Conduct is wanton if the actor behaves recklessly or with indifference to the idea that his or her conduct would substantially harm another’s property.
You must have certain mental states to be convicted of vandalism. You could be found to have acted “willfully,” for instance, if you intended both the acts and their harmful consequences. The court may find your acts were committed with “malice” if they were performed out of cruelty, hostility or revenge to another. Your conduct will be considered “wanton” if you knew it would create the threat of substantial injury or destruction to someone else’s property, or if a reasonable person would have realized those risks.
Examples of Vandalism
Vandalism is sometimes called graffiti or tagging. It can include:
- Painting on a sign;
- Spray-painting or tagging someone else’s building, home or fence;
- Destroying property such that it bears a visible blemish that diminishes its value;
- Placing a bumper sticker on someone else’s car;
- Carving initials on trees, benches or other wooden surfaces in a public place;
- Keying a car;
- Breaking windows of a building that’s not yours.
Sentencing for Vandalism
In the event that you are convicted for vandalism, the court will impose a sentence based on a variety of factors. You may be required to serve a state prison sentence of up to 3 years or a house of correction sentence of up to 2 years. The court may require you to pay a fine of $1500 or up to 3 times the value of the vandalized property, whichever is greater. You may forfeit the cost of removing or obliterating the painting, marking, scratching or etching with which you vandalized the property in question. The court may need to hold an evidentiary hearing to figure out what the value of the property you damaged is.
Additionally, if you are convicted of vandalism, you may face a driver’s license suspension of one year. Those who are under age 16 at the time of the vandalism may not be able to get their license to drive for an additional year past the usual age at which they would have become eligible.
The circumstances of your vandalism charge will determine what defenses are likely to be successful, as well. In some cases, a prosecutor simply doesn’t have enough evidence to meet his burden of proof. In other cases, there may be problems with identifying you as the person who vandalized a particular property. Sometimes the value of the damage is contested. It is crucial to retain an attorney who understands the potential consequences and is able to build the strongest possible defense.
Consult a Trustworthy Boston Lawyer About Vandalism Charges
If you were charged with vandalism, it is important to call seasoned Boston criminal defense attorney Ryan P. Sullivan. With more than a decade of experience under his belt, he can investigate every angle of your case in order to strategize and develop the best defense possible in your case. Call him today at (617) 997-7597 or get in touch through our online form to schedule your free consultation.
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