Destroying another person's property without consent qualifies as vandalism. This could include making unnecessary changes, painting graffiti, breaking windows and even hacking into someone's personal website and making changes. Although some people consider vandalism like graffiti to be artistic, the United States law does not agree.
In some cases, even carrying an item used for vandalism can be prosecuted by the state. Carrying items like paint cans used for graffiti might just lead to a vandalism charge for you. Destroying someone's private property is considered vandalism. This law applies to public property like road signs and park benches which is also considered vandalism and is charged accordingly.
Although some states cover vandalism in specific statutes, others have included it in their laws as criminal damage, malicious mischief or malicious trespassing. States have tried to control vandalism by reducing the amount of vandalism equipment being sold on the streets. Spray paint cans are one of the most commonly used vandalism equipment. Several states have prohibited the purchase of aerosol containers beyond a certain number.
Vandalism can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the nature of the violation. Being found guilty of vandalism could result in severe penalties like hefty fines and imprisonment. Those found guilty of vandalism are also ordered to fix whatever property they have vandalized.
If you have been charged with vandalism, it is advisable to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The attorney may try to use defense strategies like an accident, indifference or mischief to get you off the hook.