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Crimes and penalties for juvenile vandalism and property damage

During the summer in Virginia and throughout the year, it is not unusual for juveniles to get into various forms of mischief. In some instances, that can rise to the level of accusations of having committed criminal acts for which there are a variety of penalties. Allegations of destroying property can be lodged against juveniles. Understanding these crimes and what they entail is vital to formulating a strong defense.

Destruction, damage or vandalism occurs if property is destroyed, damaged, defaced or otherwise injured in a malicious manner without consent of its owner or the person who controls it. There are several laws that address the different types of property damage that can happen. Public buildings and materials in schools and libraries will be considered damaged if windows or doors are broken, if there is damage or defacement in a public area within the state Capitol, or property is destroyed. Town halls, schoolhouses, colleges, a city hall, a courthouse, or a place of public worship all fall into this category. If the damage costs $1,000 or more, it will be a Class 6 felony. If it is less than that, it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Damaging books, newspapers, magazines or anything similar in a library, museum, reading room or educational institution will be subject to the same penalties. Graffiti is part of this category. If a minor is caught and charged with these acts, the parents can be subject to consequences if the damage is up to $2,500. The schoolboard can act against a student or the student's parents for breakage, loss, destruction or a failure to return property that it owns or controls. That can include reimbursement for the damage. If arson is committed, it can be a Class 2 or Class 3 felony. This is contingent on the situation. A conviction on a Class 2 felony charge can result in as much as 20 years in prison. A Class 3 felony can lead to between five years and up to 20 years in prison.

Some juveniles might see destruction of property as a harmless prank that does not have substantial penalties attached to it. The reality is that there are harsh punishments that can be long-lasting and follow the person around for the rest of their lives. Fines, jail time and more can be part of the penalty phase. For juveniles who are facing accusations of vandalism, destruction property or other allegations, having legal help is imperative to formulate a defense and combat the charges.

Source: virginiarules.com, "Property Crimes -- What types of property crimes involve destroying property?," accessed on July 17, 2017

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