Destruction of Property

The crime of destruction of property has different varieties, but the most common charges are malicious destruction of property and wanton destruction of property. Both of these offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the amount of damage caused. If the damage is under $250 the crime is a misdemeanor, if it is over $250 then the crime is a felony. As you can imagine based on the cost of most consumer goods (cell phones, ipads, cars, etc) the possibility of being charged with a felony is fairly high. In Massachusetts the Commonwealth must prove four things to establish that the destruction of property was malicious. Those things are:

  • First: That the defendant injured or destroyed the (personal property) (dwelling house) (building) of another;
  • Second: That the defendant did so willfully; (and)
  • Third: That the defendant did so with malice;
  • Fourth: The value of the property destroyed.

Contrast that with the three elements the Commonwealth must establish to show that the destruction of the property was wanton:

  • First: That the defendant injured or destroyed the (personal property) (dwelling house) (building) of another; (and)
  • Second: That the defendant did so wantonly;
  • Third: The value of the property destroyed.

What both crimes have in common is that there has to be a destruction of property and that the value of the property has to be established in order to determine if the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. However, the principle difference is the INTENT of the defendant in determining if the destruction was malicious or just wanton. Wanton destruction does not require the same level of intent/pre-meditation, therefore it is an easier crime for the Commonwealth to prove. Malicious destruction requires proof as to the specific intent of the defendant because it is a more serious charge with enhanced potential penalties.

I often see people charged with this serious crime after a heated argument where the nearest object is thrown to the ground in a fit of bad judgment/anger, or after a night of one too many drinks. While the replacement cost of the property may not be a problem for them to reimburse, the problem of criminal charges and a criminal record is one they cannot afford. Therefore it is important to have a qualified and experienced lawyer on your side to defend you from a destruction of property charge.

You can find more information about the penalties for destruction of property at:
Call Attorney Rakhlin for a FREE consultation regarding your upcoming destruction of property case: (617) 564-0466