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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

vandalism

destruction of, or damage to, property, usually but not necessarily maliciously. Scots law has a statutory offence that criminalizes this behaviour.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
This year, the Old Vandals also made contributions towards the refurbishment of the hall's lavatories, and out of a targeted amount of $100,000, so far about $38,000 has been raised, as contributions are still being made to the North American President of the Association, Dr.
Brooke Vandal was quick to point out that the 2018 pricing will come into effect on March 1.
Vandal holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from HEC Montreal.
Since the vandal attack the victim hasn't been staying at his home and he said: "I'm offering the reward because I want to get back to my home and start my life again."
"We were actually planning on doing that for this weekend but unfortunately these vandals got in in advance," Doyle said.
Club chairman Alwyn Thomas and Cllr Sian Gwenllian have asked for the police's help in catching the vandals.
But after fencing to keep cattle straying off the site was cut through and removed by vandals, cattle were unable to return to the site last year.
Vandal also said he believes the building owner, Colm V.
we felt strongly that discarding them would complete the vandal's crime." Instead, word went out to the art community that the mutilated books were availabLe as raw material for works of art, and over 200 creative individuals responded from around the country.
By Gilles Vandal (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 2000.
Aladdin Knowledge Systems (Nasdaq: ALDN), a global leader in the field of Internet content and software security, has discovered that Brazilian hacker groups named "Hacker Brazil" and "VR Brazil" worked together to produce an automated tool used to help create the Kournikova vandal.