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North Carolina Vandalism Laws

There are many cases of vandalism reported every year all across the country. However, state laws vary as to the classification of this property crime. Individuals in some states who engage in acts of vandalism such as keying a car are charged with criminal mischief, but other states like North Carolina actually use the term vandalism.

General issues such as graffiti arise in all vandalism laws, but there are also certain state-specific issues that the law addresses. For instance, North Carolina, which houses many Confederate monuments which have a potential risk of vandalism due to ongoing controversies and protests regarding their presence, has a law requiring approval before these monuments or other "objects of remembrance" can be removed or altered.

North Carolina also has many distinctive caves and caverns. State law specifically prohibits any person from intentionally breaking, burning, destroying, or damaging any cave.

North Carolina Vandalism Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to North Carolina's vandalism laws, including links to important code sections.


  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-127.1 (Graffiti vandalism)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-159-21 (Vandalism of caves)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-149 (Vandalism of human remains)


The charges and the penalties depend on the specific circumstances in your case and factors such as criminal history.

Graffiti vandalism: Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by a minimum fine of $500 and 24 hours of community service unless the following circumstances apply:

Guilty of Class H felony if all of the following apply:

  • The person has two or more prior convictions for violations of this section.
  • The current violation was committed after the second conviction for violation of this section.
  • The violation resulting in the second conviction was committed after the first conviction for violation of this section.

Vandalism of caves: Class 3 misdemeanor

Vandalism of any human remains: Class H felony

Possible Defenses

  • Lack of intent
  • Mistaken identity

Related Offenses

  • Larceny, destruction, defacement, or vandalism of portable toilets or pumper trucks: North Carolina General Statutes 14-86.2
  • Injury to trees, crops, lands, of another: North Carolina General Statutes 14-128
  • Inciting to riot: North Carolina General Statutes 14-288.2

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.

North Carolina Vandalism Laws: Related Resources

Discuss Your Vandalism Case with a Criminal Defense Attorney

Although violations of North Carolina's vandalism laws are typically categorized as misdemeanors, these charges should be taken seriously. A simple act of vandalism can escalate into more serious related charges depending on the circumstances. Get peace of mind by speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can analyze your options.

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