vandalism

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Vandalism

The intentional and malicious destruction of or damage to the property of another.

The intentional destruction of property is popularly referred to as vandalism. It includes behavior such as breaking windows, slashing tires, spray painting a wall with graffiti, and destroying a computer system through the use of a computer virus. Vandalism is a malicious act and may reflect personal ill will, although the perpetrators need not know their victim to commit vandalism. The recklessness of the act imputes both intent and malice.

Because the destruction of public and private property poses a threat to society, modern statutes make vandalism a crime. The penalties upon conviction may be a fine, a jail sentence, an order to pay for repairs or replacement, or all three. In addition, a person who commits vandalism may be sued in a civil tort action for damages so that the damaged property can be repaired or replaced.

Vandalism is a general term that may not actually appear in criminal statutes. Frequently, these statutes employ the terms criminal mischief, malicious mischief, or malicious trespass as opposed to vandalism. A group of individuals can be convicted of conspiring or acting concertedly to commit vandalism. Generally, the attempt to commit vandalism is an offense as well, but the penalties for attempted vandalism are not as severe as the penalties for a completed act. Penalties also depend on the value of the property destroyed or the cost of repairing it.

To obtain a conviction the prosecution must ordinarily prove that the accused damaged or destroyed some property, that the property did not belong to the accused, and that the accused acted willfully and with malice. In the absence of proof of damage, the defendant may be guilty of Trespass, but not vandalism. If there is no proof that the defendant intentionally damaged the property, the defendant cannot be convicted of the crime but can be held liable for monetary damages in a civil action.

Some state statutes impose more stringent penalties for the destruction of certain types of property. Such statutes might cover the desecration of a church or synagogue, the destruction of jail or prison property by inmates, and the intentional destruction of property belonging to a public utility.

Destructive acts will not be excused merely because the defendants acted out of what they thought was a noble purpose. Political demonstrators may exercise their First Amendment rights of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association and Assembly, but if they deface, for example, government property with spray-painted slogans, they can be convicted of vandalism.

The peak period for committing relatively minor property crimes is between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one. In the United States adolescent vandalism, including the wanton destruction of schools, causes millions of dollars of damage each year. Apprehending vandals is often difficult, and the costs of repairing the damage are passed on to taxpayers, private property owners, and insurance companies. Some states hold parents financially responsible for vandalism committed by their minor children, up to specified limits. These statutes are designed to encourage parental supervision and to shift part of the cost of vandalism from the public to the individuals who are best able to supervise the children who destroyed the property.

Cross-references

Juvenile Law.

vandalism

destruction of, or damage to, property, usually but not necessarily maliciously. Scots law has a statutory offence that criminalizes this behaviour.
References in periodicals archive ?
This week I got an interesting letter from racing photographer John Crofts, who, if anything, hates this vandalisation of racing history even more than I do.
The telecoms markets in the countries were affected by political upheavals in the region during 2011, some of which turned violent and resulted in the vandalisation of telecoms equipment and the displacement of a considerable number of subscribers.
HISAR police on Tuesday arrested main accused Anil Godara and four others out of the 14 accused in the church vandalisation case.
Violations highlighted by NIHR in its report on the 2010 elections include vandalisation of campaign billboards, making threatening phone calls and sending intimidating text messages, using children to campaign on behalf of candidates outside polling stations and harassment of veiled women who were trying to cast their vote.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has finished repair of the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline, ending almost seven months of gas supply outage caused by vandalisation of the pipeline in Delta State.
Mumbai: The vandalisation of a private hospital by the Shiv Sainiks (members of Shiv Sena party) and the subsequent arrest of two young women by the police at Palghar in Thane district over a posting on the Facebook against shutdown of Mumbai has angered one too many and to no end in Mumbai and across Maharashtra.
Khokar also raised the issue of the vandalisation of a Hindu temple in Peshawar on May 20, saying that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General and chief minister should issue orders to arrest the culprits.
Councillor Moore has broken cover on behalf of the TIA and attacked me personally for daring to say anything about the vandalisation of the skyline.
The recent spate of kidnappings and the vandalisation of oil installations in the oil rich Niger-Delta have not come as a surprise to knowledgeable observers in the region.
And yes, the decline in the use of the Welsh language and the vandalisation of the Welsh culture, by,in the words of Robyn Lewis, those people who colonise Wales instead of integrating.
In recent weeks there has been a robbery, mugging and vandalisation to property.