Dealing with property damage of any kind is a hassle. But it’s even more of a headache when it occurs due to criminal behavior.
Although criminal damage to property is frustrating, you must remain level-headed. That’s the only way to ensure that justice is served and your property is repaired.
Are you wondering how to deal with criminal property damage? If you are, we’ll give you the answers in the content below.
How to Classify Criminal Property Damage
Criminal damage to property is classified in many ways. Even if a person’s act is seemingly harmless, it could have serious repercussions. Here are the following ways in which criminal property damage takes place:
- Damaging the property by fire or explosion through acting irresponsibly
- Knowingly and willingly causing damage to another person’s property
- Intentionally starting a fire on a person’s property
- Injuring a pet that belongs to another person
- Damaging property with the intentions of collecting insurance
In severe situations—like committing arson—there are serious repercussions. The responsible party could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000
There are other categories of malicious damage that are also considered an illegal offense, such as:
- Egging another person’s house or car
- Spray painting someone’s property with the intention of defacing it
- Slashing someone’s tires
- Causing damage using hands or feet
- Keying a person’s car
- Turning wheelies in someone’s yard in an attempt to ruin their lawn
Some of the damages listed above are sometimes considered playful or a joke. However, if the property owner feels threatened or discriminated against in any way, they can press charges. The severity of the charges are determined by the amount of property damage and whether it’s a person’s first offense.
If the negligent party causes at least $300 worth of damage to a school or church, they could face two to five years in prison. They may also receive a fine of up to $25,000.
Criminal Damage to Property: What to Do Next
If you are the victim of criminal property damage, there are some immediate steps that you should take to rectify the situation. Here’s what you should do:
File a Police Report
One of the first steps you should take after someone has intentionally ruined your property is to file a police report. Unless you sense immediate danger, reach out to your local non-emergency police line to report the matter.
By doing so, you can jumpstart an investigation into who might have done damage to your property.
Also, if you know who did it or you have an idea of who it might be, let the police officers know. That way, they can narrow down a suspect list and go get the responsible party.
In serious situations, you have no choice of whether or not you wish to press charges. For instance, if someone willingly sets your home on fire, if the police catch them, they will be arrested.
On the other hand, in situations like spray painting and egging cars, things are a bit more relaxed. Your local law enforcement officers might give you the option of whether or not to press charges. If it was a couple of teenagers who did it, they may only receive a slap on the wrist.
These days, home cameras are the norm. If you have a security camera that caught the criminal in the act, show it to the police. By doing so, it’ll drastically decrease the amount of time required to catch the culprit.
File a Claim With Your Insurance
The next logical step is to file a claim with your insurance. Most insurance companies —especially home insurance companies—will cover property damage.
For example, if someone threw a brick through your front window, you can file a claim to have it replaced. By filing an insurance claim, you can shield yourself from paying out of pocket for another person’s behavior.
It’s in your best interest to take pictures of all of the damage done to your property. Photos help to tell the story of what happened and show the extent of the damage.
Taking pictures of the scene not only helps the police officers, but it can also aid with your insurance claim. By documenting the severity of the damage, your insurance provider can make a better estimate of how much money to give you for your claim.
Seek Legal Counsel
In addition to the tips above, you also want to seek legal counsel. In certain situations, it may be in your best interest to hire an attorney. In circumstances where you may not get complete cooperation from law enforcement, an attorney can help you out.
Let’s say, you and your neighbor have a dispute and they do something malicious to damage your property; you may have the right to sue them. Their act might not be serious enough for them to get jail time. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have rights as a property owner to take legal action against them.
Follow the highlighted link to learn more info about property damage.
Correcting Criminal Damage to Property
If someone violates you by destroying your property, it’ll temporarily cause problems. However, if you follow the suggestions above, things will go a lot smoother.
It’s not fair, nor is it fun to go through something so horrific. But thankfully, there is protection in place for victims of criminal damage to property.
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