Charged With Vandalism in Minnesota? What to Expect
While leaving a mark on someone’s property or expressing your political opinion using graffiti may not seem like major offenses, these acts can have serious consequences. Minnesota laws have harsh penalties for the intentional damage of another person’s property.
After you are arrested for vandalism, a law enforcement officer may release you on bail. If you are unable to pay the bail amount, then you could stay in jail; however, another option is to use a bail bonds company. A bail bonds company can help you post a bond amount and secure your release from police custody.
If you or your loved one is facing vandalism charges, then it is important to understand and prepare for the legal process and potential penalties if you are found guilty.
What Are the Degrees of Vandalism and the Penalties?
In Minnesota, there are three types of vandalism offenses each with its own set of penalties. You will be convicted of vandalism of the first degree if:
You intentionally damaged property and created a risk of bodily harm
You knowingly damaged a public safety vehicle, which resulted in disruption of a public safety service
You intentionally damaged property belonging to a common carrier
You have been convicted of vandalism is the last three years and the damage devalued the property by more than $500
The damage devalued the property by more $1000 in repair or replacement costs
First-degree vandalism is a felony and may attract a prison sentence of up to 5 years and/or a $10,000 fine.
Second-degree vandalism entails intentional damage to another person’s property due to the property owner’s color, sex, religion, race, disability, sexual orientation, nationality or age. This type of vandalism constitutes a felony act and may incur a prison sentence of not more than 1 year plus a day and/or a fine of $3,000.
Lastly, intentional damage to property in the third degree is a misdemeanor resulting from property damage that costs not more than $1,000 to repair or replace. This offense may result in a fine of up to $3000 and/or a maximum of 1 year in jail.
After you are charged with vandalism, you will be required to appear in court for a hearing. During the hearing, the prosecutor will need to prove all three elements that constitute vandalism. These include physical damage, ownership and consent, and intention.
The prosecutor must demonstrate that your actions resulted in physical damage. Such acts may include etching, graffiti, defection, and placing stickers or posters; in more serious cases, these acts may include complete destruction of property.
Ownership and Consent
For an action to be considered vandalism, the damaged property must belong to someone else. Additionally, the destructive actions must have been committed without the consent of the property owner. If the property owner agreed to you doing graffiti art on their property, then the court probably won’t consider your actions vandalism.
Lastly, the prosecutor must show that you willfully intended to cause physical damage to another person’s property without that person’s consent.
What Are the Defense Options?
Vandalism is a crime of intent. Typically, the prosecutor will provide evidence like surveillance videos and witness statements, to prove that the destruction of property was intentional. If the prosecutor provides adequate, compelling evidence, then you might not have a lot of defense options.
However, an experienced defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate a bargain plea to lessen your charges, depending on a few factors, like whether this is the first time you have been charged with vandalism and the severity of the damage caused.
At Absolute Bail Bonds, we understand how stressful it can be for you or your loved one to be arrested and charged with vandalism. If you cannot pay your bail amount, then we can post a bond and help you stay out of jail as you await your hearing. Get in touch with us today to learn more.