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Understanding minor vandalism charges and penalties

Teenagers will be teenagers, but some teen activities can have major repercussions. When a minor receives a charge of vandalism, it is a serious matter. In fact, it is a juvenile crime, and a judge hears the accusations in juvenile court.

If your child faces such charges, it is important that you understand their extent and what they may entail. There are a few key factors that you should be aware of.


In short, vandalism is when an individual intentionally damages the property of another individual without permission. Prosecutors must prove two main aspects in a vandalism case. They must show damage to the property, as well as prove that it was an intentional act.

If the act diminishes the value of the property or harms it, that is potentially vandalism. This may include:

  • Graffiti
  • Breaking a window
  • Kicking in a door
  • Keying a car

These are just a few examples of possible damage. As for intentionality, prosecutors must show that the accused party meant to commit the act that caused the damage. They do not have to show that damage was the intent, but that the act led to it was deliberate.


The court may assess a few different penalties in a vandalism case. A judge will review all of the factors of the case and make a ruling accordingly. The sentencing usually falls into one of three categories, or "degrees." Minnesota law breaks vandalism charges into these degrees, which vary in level of severity and punishment. Though there are technically four degrees, most judgments fall under one of the first three, with the first degree being most severe.

The process for a vandalism case is quite in depth, and it is important to understand what you and your loved one may face. Take time to review the law and speak with a knowledgeable professional so that you may try to prepare for what is ahead.

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