A vandalism charge can arise from a road rage incident, a relationship that has soured, or other situations where anger clouds decision-making. Some jurisdictions use the actual term "vandalism" to describe this type of property crime, which involves a person damaging or destroying someone else's property. However, some states use other terms such as malicious mischief or malicious damage to convey the same thing.
In Missouri, vandalism offenses are charged as either "property damage" or "tampering." Both crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the level of property damage caused and the intent of the actor.
A Synopsis of Missouri Vandalism Laws
The most accurate way to determine the meaning of a statute is by working with an attorney. However, before you get to that point, you can become familiar with the law by reading a synopsis of the statutes written in plain language. See the chart below for a helpful synopsis detailing Missouri's vandalism laws.
Missouri Revised Statutes:
- Section 569.100 (First Degree Property Damage)
- Section 569.120 (Second Degree Property Damage)
- Section 569.080 (First Degree Tampering)
- Section 569.090 (Second Degree Tampering)
First Degree Property Damage: An individual commits this crime by either:
- Knowingly damaging another's property and the cost of the damage totals more than $750;
- Damaging property valued at more than $750 to defraud an insurer; or
- Damaging a motor vehicle while trying to steal something inside.
First degree property damage is a Class D felony, punishable by incarceration of up to 4 years except in the following circumstances:
- Damage to a motor vehicle is a Class C felony, punishable by incarceration for up to 10 years.
- Damage to a motor vehicle where the defendant has a previous charge for the same offense is a Class B felony, punishable by incarceration for up to 15 years.
Second Degree Property Damage: An individual commits this crime by either:
- Knowingly damaging another's property; or
- Damaging property to defraud an insurer.
Second degree property damage is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by incarceration for up to 6 months.
First Degree Tampering: An individual commits this crime by either:
- Intentionally damaging or tampering with property or facilities of a utility or institution providing health or safety protection and causing substantial interruption or impairment of service; or
- Knowingly receiving, possessing, selling, or unlawfully operating an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle without the consent of the owner.
First degree tampering is a Class C felony, punishable by incarceration for up to 7 years.
Second Degree Tampering: An individual commits this crime by either:
- Tampering with another person's property for purposes of causing substantial inconvenience to them or another person;
- Unlawfully riding in another's automobile, airplane, motorcycle, or boat;
- Tampering or making connection with property of a utility; or
- Tampering with any electric, gas, steam, or water utility's meter.
Second degree tampering is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by incarceration for up to 1 year.
Missouri Revised Statutes:
- Section 569.097 (Tampering with Computer Equipment:)
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.
Missouri Vandalism Laws: Related Resources
Have Questions about Vandalism or Property Damage in Missouri? Ask an Attorney
Vandalism is usually considered a less serious crime, except where it can cause significant harm to a community, like when it damages a public utility. Depending on the circumstances, you could be facing felony charges for property damage or tampering in Missouri. Because the facts of your case matter, it's wise to evaluate them with an experienced defense attorney who can help you weigh your options and who can argue persuasively on your behalf.