Malicious Injury to Property: More Than a Prank
We think of teenagers causing mischief, dumping garbage cans, tagging buildings and the like. But defacing a person’s property is more than just a prank in Oklahoma. It is a crime. Malicious injury to property in Oklahoma is defined as deliberately injuring, defacing or destroying another’s real or personal property. It is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma if the damage done is less than $1,000 in value. It is a felony conviction if the damage done is valued at $1,000 or more, or if the perpetrator has been convicted two or more times before on a charge of malicious injury to property regardless of the valuation of the damage done. Okla. Stat. Tit. 21 § 1760. The property losses can be aggregated in order for the prosecution to get to a felony conviction.
This crime is grounded in malicious mischief. The action must be done “maliciously.” This is defined as when a person acts without justification or excuse in doing damage or harm to the legal rights of another. The intent does not require that the offender has ill-will or hatred toward the property owner. Tagging, slashing tires, and similar acts qualify as malicious mischief under the statute.
The statute also stipulates that the victim may bring a civil action against the perpetrator to recover damages for the injured or destroyed property. The property owner can recover as much as three times the value of the property.
This trebling of damages is a punitive action on the part of the Oklahoma legislature and it is meant to discourage this crime. In addition, because the standard of proof in a criminal trial is so much higher than in a civil matter, if you are found guilty in the criminal matter, you will most certainly be found guilty in the civil matter as well.
Other actions could be considered malicious injury to property, but are treated differently under the law. Tearing down or defacing legal notices posted on any mining claim, or pulling up mining stakes used to delineate mining claims, are misdemeanor offenses punishable by a fine of as much as $100 and could include a sentence of as long as six months in jail. Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1762. Throwing or disposing of any sort of garbage or rubbish upon public or private property not belonging to you is also treated as a misdemeanor. You will be fined as much as $5,000 if you are caught.
Penalties for Malicious Injury to Property
In Oklahoma, where a misdemeanor’s punishment is not specifically set forth in the statute, it is punishable by a county jail term as long as up to one year. You could also be fined as much as $5,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 10 If you are convicted of a felony and the penalty is not set in the statute, you can be incarcerated for as many as two years and fined as much as $1,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 9.
If you or a loved one are facing charges for malicious injury to property, you will need the help of an experienced Wagoner criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer can help you with both the criminal and potential civil action. Bring your questions and concerns to us.
Call for a Free Consultation With an Experienced Wagoner Criminal Attorney
We are on your side. When you need help, all you need to do is call. For a free consultation with a Wagoner Oklahoma criminal lawyer call the Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at (918) 485-0335 or toll-free at (888) Wirth-Law. Or, as always, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page.