Salt Lake City Vandalism Lawyer

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

People sometimes assume that because vandalism is “just” a property crime, the penalties are not serious. But while acts of vandalism may not injure others, they do cause financial hardship, which means there can be significant legal consequences.

If you are convicted of committing vandalism or other property crimes in Utah, such as spraying graffiti in Salt Lake City, you may be heavily fined, sentenced to community service, placed on probation, and even incarcerated, in addition to facing other penalties.  Where vandalism causes major financial loss to the property owner, you could even be convicted of committing a felony. It is crucial that you are represented by a skilled and experienced Utah vandalism defense lawyer if you have been charged with property destruction or a related offense.

Salt Lake City Vandalism Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love has been charged with vandalism in Utah, it is absolutely critical that you fight to protect your liberty and reputation with help from a knowledgeable and accomplished criminal defense attorney.  Darwin Overson of Overson & Bugden is an aggressive vandalism lawyer with over 16 years of experience fighting for justice on behalf of the people of Utah.

You are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and when you are represented by Overson & Bugden, you can rest assured that you will be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. We are a dedicated, results-oriented firm, and are committed to vigorously pursuing a favorable outcome for your case. We will keep you updated and informed as your case progresses, make sure you understand your legal rights, and fight to have you acquitted or even have the case dismissed.

If you or your daughter or son was arrested for vandalism in Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, West Jordan, South Jordan, Orem, Ogden, St. George, Layton, Taylorsville, Lehi, Logan, or other locations in Utah, call the law offices of Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287 for a free and confidential legal consultation. We know how difficult it can be to confront criminal charges, but our respected Utah criminal defense law firm is here to help.

Were You Charged with Criminal Mischief, Graffiti, or Property Crimes?

criminal defense in utah

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, a person commits vandalism when he or she “willfully or maliciously destroys, damages, defaces, or otherwise injures real or personal property without the consent of the owner or the person having custody or control of it.” However, there is no crime called “vandalism” in the Utah Code. What we commonly think of as vandalism – in short, the destruction of property – will be categorized as one of the following property crimes listed in the Utah Code:

  • Aggravated Arson – Utah Code § 76-6-103
  • Arson – Utah Code § 76-6-102
  • Criminal Mischief – Utah Code § 76-6-106
  • Damaging a Communication Device – Utah Code § 76-6-108
  • Graffiti – Utah Code § 76-6-107
  • Reckless Burning – Utah Code § 76-6-104
  • Wanton Destruction of Livestock – Utah Code § 76-6-111

Depending on the situation, it is possible for a defendant to be charged with more than one of these offenses, in addition to related offenses such as criminal trespass. If you have been charged with one of these crimes, or are the family member or loved one of a defendant facing vandalism-related charges, it’s important for you to understand what the allegations involve.

Many vandalism arrests involve either criminal mischief or graffiti. Most people associate graffiti with spray paint, but you can also be arrested for making graffiti if you make an etching, which means “defacing, damaging, or destroying hard surfaces” by using gels, liquids, or any other chemical solution.

Criminal mischief is less self-explanatory. There are four reasons a person can be charged with criminal mischief:

  1. Intentionally damaging, destroying, or defacing another person’s property. (Utah Code § 76-6-106(2)(c))
  2. Destroying or damaging property in order to commit insurance fraud, by means other than arson. If the damage or destruction involves fire, the person will be charged with arson or a related offense. (Utah Code § 76-6-106(2)(a))
  3. Deliberately and unlawfully tampering with another person’s property in a way that recklessly endangers human health, safety, or life, or in a way that interrupts or damages “critical infrastructure,” such as airports, railroads, banking systems, or public utilities. (Utah Code § 76-6-106(2)(b))
  4. Willfully or recklessly throwing or shooting an object at car, bus, boat, plane, or train. It does not matter whether the vehicle was parked or moving at the time of the alleged offense. (Utah Code § 76-6-106(2)(d))

According to the Crime in Utah Report prepared by the Utah Department of Public Safety, in 2012 the state of Utah reported:

  • 3,776 vandalism arrests
  • 28,829 incidents of “destruction/damage/vandalism of property”

Crimes involving vandalism often involve teenagers, who are treated as juvenile offenders in the justice system.  Among the 3,776 vandalism arrests reported in 2012, roughly one third (1,162) involved juveniles. Juvenile cases follow different procedures than cases against adult defendants, so it is crucial to ensure that your son or daughter is represented by an experienced juvenile defense lawyer if he or she has been accused of vandalizing property.

Utah Vandalism Penalties: Consequences of a Felony or Misdemeanor

Most states, including Utah, separate crimes into two broad categories: there are misdemeanors, which are relatively minor offenses, and felonies, which are extremely serious. While misdemeanors have lighter penalties, a conviction of either will result in a criminal record, which can be a very heavy burden to bear when you are applying for college, jobs, loans, housing, and professional licenses. If you are convicted of a felony, you will also lose your right to bear arms, because state laws under Utah Code § 76-10-503 prohibit former felons from purchasing, possessing, or using guns.

The penalties you will face if you are convicted depend on several factors, including your criminal history, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the way the misdemeanor or felony is classified. There are three types of misdemeanors in Utah:

  • Class C Misdemeanors
  • Class B Misdemeanors
  • Class A Misdemeanors

There are also three types of felonies:

  • Third Degree Felonies
  • Second Degree Felonies
  • First Degree Felonies

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors, and therefore have harsher penalties than Class B or Class C misdemeanors. Likewise, first degree felonies have greater consequences than second or third degree felonies.

What is the Sentence for Graffiti in Salt Lake City?

Under Utah Code § 76-6-107(2), graffiti is classified based on the financial damage it causes. Graffiti penalties are described below, based on offense classification.

  • Graffiti is a Class B misdemeanor when it causes less than $300 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $1,000
    Sentence – Up to 6 months in jail

It should also be noted that, in addition to the initial fine, the courts may add an extremely high surcharge of up to 90%, bringing the true fine as high as $1,900.

  • Graffiti is a Class A misdemeanor when it causes $300 to $1,000 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $2,500, plus surcharges
    Sentence – Up to 1 year in jail
  • Graffiti is a third-degree felony when it causes $1,000 to $4,999 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $5,000, plus surcharges
    Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
  • Graffiti is a second-degree felony when it causes $5,000 or more in damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $10,000, plus surcharges
    Sentence – Up to 15 years in prison

What is the Sentence for Criminal Mischief in Salt Lake City?

While “mischief” implies a harmless prank, criminal mischief charges can result in very serious penalties. In some situations, criminal mischief can even be prosecuted as a felony offense. The way a criminal mischief offense is categorized – and in turn, the penalties that may result from conviction – depend on the nature of the offense, as described below.

  • Criminal mischief is a Class B misdemeanor when it non-lethally endangers human safety, or when it causes or attempts to cause less than $500 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $1,000
    Sentence – Up to 6 months in jail
  • Criminal mischief is a Class A misdemeanor when it endangers human life, or when it causes or attempts to cause $500 to $1,499 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $2,500
    Sentence – Up to 1 year in jail
  • Criminal mischief is a third degree felony when it involves property damage or destruction for purposes of insurance fraud, or when it causes or attempts to cause $1,500 to $4,999 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $5,000
    Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
  • Criminal mischief is a second degree felony when it damages or interferes with infrastructure, or when it causes or attempts to cause more than $5,000 worth of damage. The penalties include:
    Fine – Up to $10,000
    Sentence – Up to 15 years in prison

Our Salt Lake Vandalism Defense Lawyers Can Help

A conviction involving graffiti, criminal mischief, or other crimes against public property or personal property can lead to the imposition of harsh penalties that change your life forever.  If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges related to property destruction, you need to act fast to defend your freedom.

Utah property crimes attorney Darwin Overson represents adults and juvenile defendants throughout the state of Utah, including but not limited to Utah County, Davis County, Weber County, Cache County, Tooele County, Box Elder County, and Wasatch County. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation with Darwin Overson, call the law offices of Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.