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While a crime might appear minor or simple, if it results in harms or damages, it is still a situation that could result in a criminal offense. With regards to juvenile crimes, many view these as annoyances rather than hard crimes. However, when juveniles continually commit these crimes, these offenses could carry with them harsh penalties. This is not only used to deter these young individuals from committing these crimes but also to penalize those that continually do not follow the rules.

Vandalism is one of these juvenile crimes. And while many young individuals in Virginia and elsewhere may not view this crime as serious, it is a criminal charge that could land a juvenile in a lot of trouble. In order to understand the elements of the crime, it is important to note what actions are considered to fall within the definition of the crime.

Vandalism is defined as being "an offense that occurs when an individual destroys or defaces the property of someone else's without his or her permission." These actions include actions such as graffiti, breaking windows, damage to vehicles and even damaging or destroying another person's website. Vandalism is frequently seen in public spaces on areas such as street signs, billboards, railroad cars and building structures located near these public spaces.

In order to be charged with vandalism, there must be a willful behavior to destroy, alter or deface property that belongs to another. Next, the accused must possess the means to commit this offense. This means having tools or items that could complete the task of vandalism. Finally, actual damage, defacing or alterations must have occurred.

Even if an individual considers it to be art, vandalism could result in serious penalties. This includes jail time, monetary fines or both. Thus, it is important that juveniles facing this crime understand the severity of the offense. Additionally, he or she should take steps to protect their rights and assert a strong defense against the charges.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Vandalism," accessed June 17, 2017

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