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Georgia Vandalism Laws

The spraypainted mural of the late musician Prince masterfully rendered on what used to be a billboard for a nearby fast food joint is no doubt a welcome site for many a passing motorist. But in the eyes of the law, even the most accomplished street art is no different than any other act of vandalism; and it can lead to felony charges in Georgia if the cost of the damage exceeds just $500.

Georgia Vandalism Laws at a Glance

Georgia law identifies two separate crimes that typically would be considered "vandalism" -- criminal trespass and criminal damage to property, the latter being the felony offense. State law also specifically prohibits vandalism of any grave marker of, or memorial to, a military service member. Additional details can be found in the following chart.


Georgia Code § 16-7-21, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Criminal Trespass

A person commits the offense of criminal trespass when he or she intentionally damages any property of another without consent of that other person and the damage thereto is $500.00 or less or knowingly and maliciously interferes with the possession or use of the property of another person without consent of that person.

A person commits the offense of criminal trespass when he or she intentionally defaces, mutilates, or defiles any grave marker, monument, or memorial to one or more deceased persons who served in the military service; or a monument, plaque, marker, or memorial which is dedicated to any past or present military personnel of this state, the U.S. or any of the states thereof, or the Confederate States of America.

Statutory Definition of Criminal Damage to Property

A person commits the offense of criminal damage to property in the first degree when he:

  • Knowingly and without authority interferes with any property in a manner so as to endanger human life; or
  • Knowingly and without authority and by force or violence interferes with the operation of any system of public communication, public transportation, sewerage, drainage, water supply, gas, power, or other public utility service or with any constituent property thereof.

A person commits the offense of criminal damage to property in the second degree when he:

  • Intentionally damages any property of another person without his consent and the damage thereto exceeds $500.00; or
  • Recklessly or intentionally, by means of fire or explosive, damages property of another person.

Crime Classifications, Sentences, and Penalties

Criminal Damage to Property, 1st Degree: Felony; 1 to 10 yrs. in prison, plus fine.

Criminal Damage to Property, 2nd Degree: Felony; 1 to 5 yrs. in prison, plus fine.

Criminal Trespass: Misdemeanor; up to 1 yr. in jail, plus fine.

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the enactment of new legislation but also through court decisions and other means. Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Georgia Vandalism Laws: Related Resources

Charged with Vandalism? Get Legal Help Today

Whether it was a true artistic expression or just an attempt to make a scene, it's still vandalism if you've defaced another's property. Make sure you understand your rights and possible defenses by speaking with a defense attorney, who can apply their expert knowledge of the law to the facts of your case. Get started today by contacting a Georgia criminal defense attorney.

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