Each state has laws that making it a crime to damage or destroy property that doesn't belong to you. Many states refer to the act of damaging, defacing, or destroying property as "vandalism." Virginia has several statutes addressing property destruction based on the character of the property. For example, Virginia addresses damage to public buildings separately from damage to other types of buildings.
Virginia Destruction of Property Laws at a Glance
When you have questions about the law, it's always important to read the actual text of a statute. But statutes are often written in complicated legalese that sometimes creates confusion even for judges and lawyers. However, if you're just looking for a quick overview of what the law says, it can be beneficial to have a basic summary of the relevantstatutes. The chart below does just that as it summarizes Virginia destruction of property laws with helpful links to the statutes that apply.
Under Section 18.2-137, an individual is prohibiting from defacing, damaging, destroying, or removing without the intent to steal any real or personal property that doesn't belong to them. This statute also applies to the following types of property:
- Monument or memorial for war veterans as per Section 15.2-1812.
- Monuments established to designate where a battle during the Civil War was fought.
- Monuments or trees that have been established to designate the boundaries of a city, town, or tract of land.
|Charges and Penalties
Generally, violating Section 18.2137 is a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, if the injury is caused intentionally, the following charges and penalties are as follows:
- If the value of the property or the damage to the property is less than $1,000, it's a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- If the value of the property or the damage to the property is $1,000 or more, it's a Class 6 felony punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison or (in the discretion of the court or jury) punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- In addition to the penalties listed above, a defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution.
Virginia Code Section 18.2-144, et seq. (Damage to and Tampering with Property)
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.
Virginia Destruction of Property Laws: Related Resources
Charged with Destruction of Property in Virginia? Get Legal Help
While destruction of property doesn't seem too serious as far as crimes go, it can land you in jail - or even prison - if you're convicted. And, even if you don't end up with a sentence that involves serving time, you'll have the conviction on your criminal record. If you're facing destruction of property charges in Virginia, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense lawyer who can explain how Virginia destruction of property laws apply to your specific case.