Graffiti, egging a car, letting the air out of car tires. We often think of malicious injury to property in Oklahoma as just a teenaged prank. However, pranks like these can lead to criminal charges.
What Is Malicious Injury To Property In Oklahoma?
Malicious injury to property in Tahlequah is defined as deliberately injuring, defacing, or destroying another’s real or personal property. A simple prank like egging a car may end up in a felony charge. Whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony in depends on the amount of damage done.
Misdemeanor or Felony?
The crime is charged as a misdemeanor in Tahlequah if the damage done is less than $1,000 in value. If the damage done is $1000 or more, the crime is charged as a felony. It is also charged as a felony when the defendant has two or more prior convictions of malicious injury to property regardless of the amount of damage done. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1760
Several smaller acts of malicious injury to property can result in felony charges, as the law allows the damages from multiple acts to be aggregated to allow the prosecutor to charge the crime as a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Elements Of The Crime And Defenses
Every element of the crime must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. If any one element is unproven, there is no conviction on that charge. Thus, most defenses come from the elements of the crime. Here they are:
- injuring, defacing, or destroying
- the property
- of another.
The action must be deliberate rather than accidental. A person acts “maliciously” when they act without justification or excuse in doing the damage or harming the rights of another person. Ill will toward another is not needed. It is the purposeful damage done to another person’s property rights that gives rise to the crime.
Penalties For Malicious Injury To Property
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by a county jail term of up to one year, a fine of up to $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 10
If you are convicted of a felony under this statute, you could face up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 9
The law also allows the victim to bring a civil suit against the perpetrator and allows the property owner to collect three times the value of the actual damage done. Thus, a night of graffiti can result in thousands of dollars in damages.
Other Situations Are Covered By Other Statutes
When there is a specific statute covering a specific situation, a perpetrator will be charged under the more specific statute, with varying penalties. For example:
- Damaging another person’s vehicle, rigging the vehicle to use it for joyriding or disturbing any of the vehicle’s parts is a misdemeanor. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1787, 1788
- Intentionally defacing or causing damage to a church or other house of worship is a felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1765
- Deliberately defacing or taking a landmark is a misdemeanor. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1774
- Intentionally causing damage to any public roadways or bridges is a felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1753
Your Tahlequah attorney will be able to help you determine what course of action to take given your circumstances. If you are facing charges, get help today.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with malicious injury to property in Oklahoma.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll-free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.