Kids and young people may think that graffiti (or “tagging”) and otherwise damaging or defacing property is just harmless fun. However, it’s illegal. Many state laws refer to it as “vandalism.”
Here in Virginia, we have numerous laws regarding destruction of property. Depending on the cost of the damage done and the type of property damaged, charges can be misdemeanors or felonies.
Our destruction of property laws refer to damaging, defacing, removing (without the intent to steal) or destroying property belonging to someone else. This can include public buildings, monuments and trees and other foliage. It can include pulling down fences and even leaving gates open in some circumstances.
There’s been a lot of controversy in recent years about monuments to those who fought for the South during the Civil War as well as monuments that indicate where particular battles were fought. No matter how you might feel about these monuments, it’s important to know that defacing or otherwise damaging them is illegal.
In most cases, it’s a misdemeanor. However, if the damage is determined to be worth $1,000 or more, you could find yourself facing a felony, with fines and possible prison time, as well as an order to pay restitution.
If you’re a parent whose child has been charged with destruction of property, you could find yourself having to pay damages to the property owner or to the government, if your child damaged public property.
It’s essential for kids to understand at an early age that if property doesn’t belong to them, they have no right to take it or tamper with it in any way without the owner’s permission. If your child is facing destruction of property charges, you need to take them seriously. An experienced attorney can work to protect your child’s rights and help lessen the consequences.