Graffiti on walls, broken windows and damaged property barriers: Vandalism takes a variety of forms. While it is not the most serious crime on the books, a conviction could land you with some serious consequences.

Vandalism — or criminal damage to property, as Minnesota statutes describe it — is like any misdemeanor. Specifically, it is something you want to keep off of your record. That would be especially true if you face accusations of a crime involving any of the following factors.

Damage to emergency vehicles

Police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances all perform important public services. Even minor damage has the potential to decrease the effectiveness of these services in a variety of ways. Furthermore, keeping equipment in top condition is the police and fire departments’ responsibility, and the money for repairs and maintenance procedures comes from public sources. With all this in mind, it should not surprise you that intentional damage to any of these vehicles is likely to increase the severity of a vandalism charge.

Damage that reduces value

Technically, any damage you might cause to an item of property reduces that its value. Courts typically calculate the amount of damage by looking at repair bills.

For example, spray paint on a wall might reduce a building’s value by the amount it costs to paint over the graffiti or to clean the surface. A slashed tire on a vehicle might reduce a car’s value by the replacement cost of the tire itself and the service fee of the technician. 

There are three tiers of increased consequences tied to total value of property damage in Minnesota. Each subsequent level comes with the possibility for higher fines and longer jail time:

  • $500 to $1,000
  • $1,000 to $5,000
  • Over $5,000

Damage that could hurt someone

When you think about vandalism, serious bodily injury is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, when property damage intersects with acts of sabotage or neglect, people could get hurt. Some common examples of this might be painting over warning signs, damaging sidewalks or tampering with equipment.

Consequences of a high-degree vandalism conviction could include a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. There are also some long-term ramifications that could affect how courts handle any subsequent allegations against you. This is just one more reason to take all interactions seriously when it comes to the law.