We think of vandalism as the result of a group of teenagers out with a spray can on a Saturday night. But vandalism is a crime in Oklahoma, and this malicious damage to property is prosecuted as malicious injury to property.
Malicious Damage to Property Defined
Malicious damage to property in Oklahoma is covered by a number of different statutes that cover particular types of property and the law treats the crime somewhat differently under the statutes.
Malicious damage to property in Oklahoma is defined as deliberately injuring, defacing or destroying another’s real or personal property. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount of damage done. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1760.
It is charged as a misdemeanor in Oklahoma when the damage done is valued at less than $1,000, and a felony if the damage exceeds that amount or when the defendant has had two or more prior convictions for the same crime. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1760.
In addition, prosecutors are able to aggregate the damage done to several pieces of property to get to a higher amount of damages, and thus, a felony conviction.
Penalties For Malicious Damage to Property
If convicted of a misdemeanor, a defendant could be sentenced up to a year in county jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 10. A felony conviction could mean incarceration for up to two years, a fined up to $1,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 9.
In addition, the law allows a civil action against the defendant to recoup damages. A victim may seek up to three times the value of the property that was damaged or destroyed.
Other Situations of Malicious Damage
Malicious destruction to railroad tracks and equipment are treated under one statute. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 1751, 1752.1. Other statutes prohibit all sorts of malicious damage to public highways, bridges and roadways. These statutes prohibit damage to public works such as stealing street signs, tossing flaming substances from vehicles and the like. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 1753, 1753.3, 1753.8.
Any malicious interference with railroad equipment that causes the death of another is a felony, punishable by at least four years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1752. If the act of stealing street signs causes injury or death, a person can be convicted of a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, or a fine, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1753.8.
In order to secure a conviction, a prosecutor must prove that the action was done “maliciously.” This is defined as acting without justification or excuse in doing damage or harm to the legal rights of another. This level of intent does not require that the prosecution prove any ill-will or hatred toward the owner of the property. The damage itself can be used to prove the intent required.
If you or a loved one are facing charges for malicious damage to property, you will need the help of an experienced Okmulgee criminal defense attorney to help preserve your freedom. Bring your questions and concerns to us.
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Call (918) 756-9600 or (888) Wirth-Law now for a free consultation with an Okmulgee, Oklahoma lawyer at the Wirth Law Office – Okmulgee. Or, enter your legal question or concern in the firm at the top right of this page, and one of our attorneys will email or call you. Finding the right Okmulgee lawyer for you can be difficult; call the Wirth Law Office – Okmulgee at (918) 756-9600 and let us demonstrate why Wirth Law is the firm for you.
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