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What to Know If You Are Charged with Vandalism in Tennessee

If you are facing vandalism charges, you may have no idea what to do. Dealing with the threat of fines and jail time can be excruciating and stressful. You want the charges to go away if possible but you may not know how to go about achieving that goal. 

The first thing you should do is have a basic understanding of what Tennessee laws have to say about vandalism. Here is some important information regarding the definition of vandalism, potential penalties, and common legal defenses.

Aspects of the crime

Here are the intentional actions that fall under the definition of vandalism in Tennessee:

  • Causing damage or destroying property without consent from the owner
  • Helping or attempting to help another individual commit vandalism against a retail store
  • Facilitating or commissioning vandalism
  • Damaging retail merchandise

Damage may include destroying, polluting, contaminating or tampering with property in any way that renders it useless or decreases its value.

Penalties for vandalism

The consequences for vandalism depend on the value of the property damage. The maximum penalties for each amount are as follows:

  • $500 or less: $2,500 fine, one year in prison
  • $500 to $1,000: $3,000 fine, one to six years in prison
  • $1,000 to $10,000: $5,000 fine, two to 12 years in prison
  • $10,000 to $60,000: $10,000 fine, three to 15 years in prison.
  • Over $60,000: $25,000 fine, eight to 30 years in prison.

The specific fines and jail time may vary depending on the specific details of your case.

Defenses for vandalism charges

It may be possible for you to defend against these vandalism allegations with the following arguments:

  • The damage was unintentional or accidental.
  • There is a mistaken identity.
  • The property owner consented to have graffiti on private or commercial property.

You may also be able to enter a civil compromise or negotiate a plea deal.

The prospect of dealing with a vandalism conviction may be frightening, but legal information will help you throughout the process. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more.