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For example, under Florida law, you will face a felony charge if you vandalize property and the crime results in $1,000 worth of damage or more.2
In contrast, you will face a misdemeanor vandalism charge if the amount of damaged property in the vandalism case is under $1,000.
Similarly, the threshold amount under Californialaw is $400. Vandalism is a felony offense if the crime results in $400 or more of property damage. But the crime is a misdemeanor if the value of the damage is under $400.3
Note that misdemeanor vandalism usually results in county jail time, and/or a fine. In contrast, a felony conviction can result in a
state prison term and/or
more substantial fines.
2. Does the type of property matter?
Some states have different forms of vandalism penalties depending on:
the type of property that is vandalized, and
the instrument used to vandalize something.
For example, under Illinois law, you can face felony vandalism charges if you vandalize:
a cemetery, or
personal property contained in a place of worship.4
As to the instrument used to vandalize something, note that Nevada law says that vandalism is most often a misdemeanor if you vandalize property using signs or posters.5
720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/21-1.2. Note that some jurisdictions will apply a sentencing enhancement with these forms of vandalism if the crime was committed as a type of hate crime. See also California Penal Code section 594.3 PC.
Nevada Revised Statutes 206.200.
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.