Malicious Destruction of Property

One of the law’s primary purposes is to protect the property of the people under the State’s jurisdiction. For this reason, the authorities will vigorously prosecute if they obtain evidence that you purposefully destroyed someone else’s property. The penalties for a willful and malicious destruction of property charge are harsh, and can substantially affect your freedom, reputation, and finances. With the help of an experienced destruction of property lawyer in Lansing, however, you may be able to avoid all or some of these penalties.

At DeBruin Law, our Lansing criminal defense law firm will dedicate all of our resources towards the zealous defense of criminal cases. From preliminary hearings to pretrial motions, to the trial itself, our goal is to obtain the best case outcome possible for our clients through decisive and swift advocacy. If you’ve been charged with the malicious destruction of property, do not plead guilty to your charges before consulting with a skilled and experienced Lansing property crimes lawyer. Call us today at (517) 324-4303.

What is Malicious Destruction of Property?

According to Michigan Penal Code section 750.377a, willful and malicious destruction of property consists of destroying or damaging any property that belongs to another person. Basically, the offense applies to most acts of vandalism – except those committed through fire. Importantly, the offense only applies to intentional and malicious acts as opposed to accidents.

The penalties for malicious destruction of property depend on the value of the destroyed property and the number of prior convictions you have:

  • Felony punishable by ten years in prison and/or fines of $15,000 or three times the value of the destroyed property – This is the penalty for any offense involving property or damage valued at more than $20,000, or when you have two prior convictions of malicious destruction of property, and the third conviction involves property valued between $1,000 and $20,000.
  • Felony involving five years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the destroyed property – This is the penalty when the property you allegedly destroyed or the damage was worth more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, or you committed a second offense involving property valued between $200 and $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and/or fines of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the destroyed property – This is the penalty when the offense involves the destruction of property or damage worth more than $200 but less than $1,000, or you get convicted of a second malicious destruction of property offense.
  • Misdemeanor carrying a possible 93-day jail sentence and/or a fine of $500 or three times the value of the destroyed property – This is the penalty for crimes involving the destruction of less than $200 of property.

It’s important to bear in mind that in calculating the amount of damage you caused, the sentencing court can add together all of the property you allegedly destroyed over a 12 month period. Thus, several small offenses can add up to one big sentence. In addition to the criminal penalties listed above, a conviction may entail any of the following collateral consequences:

  • Restricted employment opportunities because of your permanent criminal history
  • Difficulties applying to college
  • Inability to receive certain professional licenses
  • For non-citizens, immigration consequences
  • For felons, restricted rights to vote and to own firearms

How Can a Property Crimes Lawyer from DeBruin Law Defend Your Case?

In criminal law proceedings, the hardest part of the prosecutor’s case is to prove the criminal state of mind of the accused. In your case, it means that the prosecutor needs to supply evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally and with bad intentions destroyed someone’s property. It’s generally difficult to find convincing evidence of someone’s bad intentions. So if your lawyer can prove that there is a possibility that either of the following is true, you may avoid a conviction:

  • You destroyed the property accidentally – Such as by crashing your car through someone’s business after losing control of your car.
  • You destroyed the property on purpose, but you had good intentions – For example, a cat is stuck under your neighbor’s garage door, and you rescue the cat by breaking the door.

Alternatively, your Lansing destruction of property attorney may be able to demonstrate that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you were the person who destroyed the property. For example, the prosecutor’s witnesses may be unreliable or contradict themselves under cross-examination. If security camera footage is being used against you, it may not be clear enough to conclusively point to you as the culprit.

If you’ve been charged with malicious destruction of property, you may feel like your back is against the wall. But with a reputable Lansing property crimes attorney in your corner, you stand a good chance of avoiding all or some of the harsh penalties that result from a conviction. Every case is different, so if you want to find out how we can help you specifically, call DeBruin Law at (517) 324-4303 today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.