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Fairfax/Manassas Criminal & Personal Injury Blog

Teens in Virginia might occasionally get caught up in certain behaviors or be confronted with allegations that they did not believe were especially harmful nor against the law. One example is vandalizing property. The laws of the state make clear that the act of vandalizing public buildings and materials in libraries and schools is illegal and that anyone who is accused of doing it will be subjected to arrest and various penalties. Those who are facing this type of criminal charge need to be aware that they will not only face legal issues, but the long-term consequences if they are convicted.

Vandalizing property and its level of punishment will depend on the amount of damage that was done. If the damage costs $1,000 or more, it will be a Class 6 felony. If it is less than $1,000, then it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. If there is willful and unlawful damage or defacement to any item that is in a library, museum, reading room or other institution such as a magazine, book, map or other item, damage that costs $1,000 or more will be a Class 6 felony. An amount under $1,000 will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. Those who write graffiti or "tag" these properties will be charged under this law.

Minors who are arrested and charged with damaging public property in this way can be made to either repair the damage or pay for it to be repaired. The parents of a minor can have taken action against them for up to $2,500. School boards are also able to take action against a student and his or her parents to pay for the damage that was done.

Those who are under the mistaken impression that vandalizing property does not meet the threshold of being considered juvenile crimes and that they will therefore not face penalties because of it are mistaken. When there is a charge of vandalism, the costs can be substantial in a multitude of ways. Because of that, the first call that should be made after an arrest is to an experienced attorney to plan a defense against the charges.

Source: virginiarules.com, "Offenses Against Property -- Vandalism," accessed on July 18, 2016

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