The juvenile crime vandalism can be very serious and difficult on a minor and their family. Though vandalism charges brought against juveniles can invoke images of kids being silly and running around with spray paint cans or gouging their names into buildings or wet cement, and those images may seem relatively harmless compared to other crimes, the crime of vandalism can be quite serious. If charged, the penalties can be severe but maybe more importantly, it can seriously impact a minor’s future and social standing. In addition to being convicted, having to pay fines and restitution, maybe serve some jail time or do community service, they also have a criminal record. The fines and restitution, which can be significant, is often borne by the parents as the child has no means of income or major savings.
That’s why juveniles accused of even misdemeanor vandalism charges are better served if they are represented by the experienced legal professionals of Farkas & Crowley rather than hoping for the best.
In the Florida statute on the criminal charges, the statutes seeks to define vandalism though not specifically as they they pertain to minors. The statute focus is on describing acts of vandalism and on the outlining monetary value of the damage in question. For example, “Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, or any religious article contained therein, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the damage to the property is greater than $200.”
Vandalism gets defined in Florida as any physical damage committed against a physical building or object owned by someone other than the person accused of the crime. This works on the same principle of ownership dictating usage; if you own a house and decide to cover the exterior in graffiti, you have not committed vandalism since you own the building in question. However, if someone else puts up the graffiti without your permission, your house would qualify as being “legally damaged” and vandalism charges can be brought against the perpetrator.
• Damage Types
Acceptable types of vandalism can include, but not be limited to, breaks, scratches, carvings, drawings, burnings, and etchings. The damage in question also has to require repairs at a cost to the owner to prevent permanent damage. This means the damage is not minor or easily repaired For example, if the owner catches a minor sticking a piece of chewed gum against the building, vandalism charges may not apply due to the relative ease of removal.
This one plays a big role in deciding whether vandalism actually occurred because unintentional property damage can easily occur in everyday circumstances. If a minor picked up a stick, dragged it against a building as they walked by, and accidentally gouged a groove in the building, vandalism may not apply because the minor had no intention of purposefully damaging the property. The owner must be able to prove malicious intent.
Juveniles convicted of vandalism charges can be hit with fines reaching up to $1,000, the loss of any driving privileges if the minor in question has a driver’s license, and possible other punishments that may include:
• Community Service
• Restitution to the Property Owner
• Letters of Apology
• Educational courses
• Mental health evaluation
Vandalism charges also work on a scale related to the number of offenses. First-time offenders generally face less severe penalties compared to others that have repeatedly been caught and charged with engaging in vandalism.
Because even a first-time vandalism charge can result in a conviction, if your child has been charged with vandalism, they should be represented by an good lawyer. There is a common misbelief that juvenile crimes do not face harsh punishments. However, the courts want juveniles to learn their lessons. And, the consequences of a criminal record can still affect a juvenile; therefore, you need a criminal defense attorney with experience in these types of cases. We are prepared to protect the rights of your child and rigorously defend them against these types of charges. To find out more, contact Farkas and Crowley P.A. today.
Looking for a criminal law firm? Farkas & Crowley, P.A. are the attorneys for you. They are extremely knowledgeable of the law and go the extra mile for their clients. Their expertise and impeccable work ethic are hard to beat. Available 24/7. Highly recommended.