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Criminal Consequences of Statue Vandalism in Michigan

Mar 31st, 2018 Felony Offenses Criminal Consequences of Statue Vandalism in Michigan

Many people view vandalism as a youthful indiscretion. The Sparty statue on the grounds of Michigan State University is the target of vandalism nearly every year during rivalry week. And in 2015, so was the Magic Johnson statue on the school’s grounds.

But while these may seem like harmless pranks by the college kids involved, Michigan has also seen its fair share of hate vandalism. One example is when someone painted offensive, derogatory remarks on a statue outside of Muskegon High School.

And this type of vandalism, along with the seemingly harmless pranks, can have offenders facing fairly serious consequences under Michigan’s willful and malicious destruction of property laws.

Willful and malicious destruction of property in Michigan means just that – when someone intentionally destroys property, statues or otherwise. And when offenders face these charges, they could face a felony or misdemeanor offense.

Misdemeanor charges in Michigan for destroying someone else’s property may apply when the property damage is minor, between $200 and $1,000. A misdemeanor charge could also happen when the damage is less than $200, but there is a prior conviction for willful and malicious destruction of property.

Misdemeanor charges can carry penalties of up to one year in jail and fines of $2,000, or three times the value of damage. Courts may sentence offenders to the higher of these two amounts. When the damage is less than $200, penalties can be up to 93 days in jail and a fine of $500 or three times the amount of damage, with the courts choosing the greater of the two.

When the property damage is more than $20,000, or when the offender has two prior convictions of willful and malicious destruction of property, the prosecution may increase these charges to a felony offense.

A very serious charge, those accused could face up to ten years in prison along with fines that are $15,000 or three times the value of the damage. Although these fines are steep, the courts may still choose the higher of the two amounts.

Felony charges could be less when the property damage falls between $1,000 and $20,000, or if the offender has one or more prior convictions. These convictions carry penalties of up to five years in prison and the greater fine of $15,000 or three times the amount of damage.

Statue vandalism and any kind of destruction to someone else’s property is never a harmless prank, even if it is an annual ritual for a university. Truthfully if caught, it could mean significant time in prison, and very heavy fines for those who choose to take part in it.