It can be fun for young people to go out on a weekend night and goof around. But sometimes fun and games morph into something more serious. That can happen when a person causes damage or destruction to another person’s property in such a way that it costs them money, time, and aggravation. Then it becomes the crime of malicious injury to property in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Defining Malicious Injury to Property in Claremore
Malicious injury to property in Claremore is legally defined as deliberately injuring, defacing, or destroying another’s real or personal property. The crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Oklahoma depending on the amount of damage done.
Think about keying a car, egging a house, putting graffiti on a building or a car, and digging up plants. These are all examples of the crime, and all of them cause varying amounts of damage.
It can be charged as a misdemeanor if the damage done is less than $1,000 in value.
It is a felony conviction when the damage done is valued at $1,000 or more or when the defendant has two or more prior convictions of malicious injury to property — regardless of the amount of damage done. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1760
The law allows the damages from smaller acts of malicious injury to property to be aggregated in order to allow the prosecutor to charge the crime as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. This can make a bad situation into a much worse situation.
The crime requires a knowing and malicious intent. That means that the act must be done deliberately. If the damage is done accidentally, there is can be no conviction on this crime.
The term “malicious” does not mean that the perpetrator harbors any ill will toward the owner of the property. In fact, a person can act maliciously without knowing who the owner of the property is at all. It is the mean spirited disregard for the property right of others that lies at the heart of this crime.
Penalties for Malicious Injury to Property
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 10
If you are convicted of a felony under this statute, you could face up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 9
Finally, the law specifically allows the victim to bring a civil suit against the perpetrator and allows the property owner to collect three times the value of the actual damage done. This can be done in addition to the jail time imposed in the criminal action. Thus, the penalty for this crime can quickly become expensive, depending on the damage done.
Malicious injury to property is a general statute, meaning that it can apply to a number of situations.
However, Oklahoma has other statutes that cover specific types of malicious injury to property. If the acts involved are covered under a more specific statute, it is likely that you will be charged under the more specific statute. Some of these crimes are misdemeanors, while others are felonies.
Here are some examples:
- Damaging another person’s vehicle, rigging the vehicle to use it for joyriding, or disturbing any of the vehicle’s parts is a misdemeanor. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 1787, 1788
- Intentionally defacing or causing damage to a church or other house of worship is a felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1765
- Intentionally defacing or taking a landmark is a misdemeanor. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1774
- Intentionally causing damage to any public roadways or bridges is a felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1753
Even if you are facing misdemeanor charges, you are still facing possible jail time. Thus, it is always best to have a strong advocate on your side.
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