Vandalism, referred to as damage to property or criminal mischief, occurs when a person willfully defaces, damages or adds physical blemishes to a piece of property that does not belong to them. Common examples include graffiti, carvings, destruction of property or “egging.” This offense is among the most common juvenile crimes committed in the state of Florida. If your child was recently arrested in the greater South Florida area on vandalism charges, call the Fort Lauderdale juvenile criminal defense attorneys to protect your child’s reputation. A criminal record can be the only thing in the way of your child’s success in the future both professionally and personally. Vandalism charges, like theft crimes, have a particularly negative connotation when viewed by universities and employers, even when committed as a juvenile. Colleges and companies don’t want to run the risk of hiring someone who is destructive or deceptive, so it is imperative to retain legal counsel after your child has been charged with vandalism to ensure that it does not end up on their permanent record. The Broward County juvenile criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm have the experience and the knowledge necessary to keep your child out of the strong grip of the legal system.
Under Florida law, vandalism occurs when the following three criteria are met:
- Physical damage: the law considers any act of graffiti, “tagging,” carving, etching or any other kind of damage that is not necessarily permanent or entirely destructive.
- Ownership by another: The property damaged by someone must belong to someone else, and the vandalism must have occurred against their wishes. For example, someone who is contracted to paint a house cannot be charged with vandalism by the owner of the house after the agreement was made.
- Intentionality: Vandalism occurs when a person intentionally marks or damages the property of another. A person who accidentally scratches another person’s car can not be charged with vandalism, although they are legally obligated to rectify the damages.
Vandalism is tiered in severity based on the value of the property that is damaged. If the property damaged is worth $200 or less, than the charge will be a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. If it is between $200-$1,000 then it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The most severe form of vandalism occurs when property damage exceeds $1,000 in value, when objects are placed on train tracks, and when any marker or monument associated with a burial site is defaced. Any of these offenses will result in a third-degree felony charge, punishable by no more than 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000. These are the penalties that are incorporated into the statutes, however recent reforms to the juvenile court system has created a separate system for juvenile offenders.
When a minor under the age of 18 is arrested on vandalism charges for graffiti, there are a series of penalties associated. Instead of a criminal conviction, the state of Florida requires juvenile graffiti offenders to pay fines based on the number of incidents. For the first conviction, a fine of $250 is issued, $500 for the second conviction, and $1,000 for the third conviction. In tandem with the fines, juvenile courts can require offenders to complete community service hours, letters of apology, mandatory restitution or any relevant educational courses as deemed necessary by the judge. After the first offense is processed in juvenile court, the minor’s record is sealed from being viewed by universities or employers in their future. This is why it is imperative that you retain a strong criminal defense attorney if your child has been arrested on vandalism charges. Our attorneys have defended countless juvenile offenders in both adult and juvenile court. We have years of experience and the necessary knowledge to successfully defend your child’s future from the justice system. We understand how important it is for kids to be competitive once they reach the age of 18 when they apply for college or employment. Don’t leave your child’s future up to the judge- call The Ansara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal matters today.
If you, your child, or the child of a friend or loved one have recently been charged with juvenile Vandalism in the greater South Florida region, call The Ansara Law Firm immediately at (954) 761-4011 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal matter.