Sure, it may sound like harmless youthful indiscretion to scale the town water tower and spray paint your distinctive "tag" for everyone to see. Even the official statutory name for vandalism in Indiana sounds whimsical -- criminal mischief. But it's no laughing matter and can land you in prison and set you back a few thousand dollars in fines.
Generally speaking, vandalism (or criminal mischief) occurs when an individual destroys or defaces another's property without their permission; this is true even for acts in violation of the law that could arguably be considered "art." Other forms of vandalism include "keying" someone's car, breaking the windows of a local business, or etching your initials on a park bench. Whatever the case, the act must be intentional.
Learn more about Indiana's vandalism laws (charged as criminal mischief) in the following table.
Indiana Code § 35-43-1-2
|Statutory Definition of Vandalism (Criminal Mischief)
A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally damages or defaces property of another person without the other person's consent commits criminal mischief .
|Classifications & Penalties
Class B misdemeanor if pecuniary loss is less than $750; up to 180 days in jail, up to a $1,000 fine.
Class A misdemeanor if pecuniary loss is between $750 and $50,000; up to 1 yr. in jail, up to a $5,000 fine.
Level 6 felony (6 mos. to 2 1/2 yrs. in prison, up to a $10,000 fine) if:
- Pecuniary loss is at least $50,000;
- Damages causes substantial impairment of service to the public;
- Damage is done to a public record; or
- Damage is to a law enforcement animal (as defined by 35-46-3-4.5 )
A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally damages (1) a structure used for religious worship; (2) a school or community center; (3) agricultural property (as defined by 32-30-6-1); or (4) personal property contained in any of the above, commits institutional mischief.
- Class A misdemeanor if pecuniary loss is less than $750; up to 1 yr. in jail, up to a $5,000 fine.
- Level 6 felony if pecuniary loss is between $750 and $50,000; 6 mos. to 2 1/2 yrs. in prison, up to a $10,000 fine.
- Level 5 felony if pecuniary loss is between $750 and $50,000; 1 to 6 yrs. in prison, up to a $10,000 fine.
|Administrative Penalty for Use of Graffiti
Driver's license may be suspended for up to 1 year.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Indiana Vandalism Laws: Related Resources
Get Legal Help with Your Vandalism Case in Indiana
Even minor vandalism can result in a substantial jail sentence, and suspension of your driver's license for a year if you're busted for graffiti. But with the right legal defense, you have a much better chance of either beating the charge or getting a relatively lenient sentence upon conviction. Learn more about the details of your vandalism charge speaking to an Indiana criminal defense attorney today.