Massachusetts G.L. c. 266, §126A: Vandalism

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Section 126A governs vandalism and defines the crime as follows:

Whoever intentionally, willfully and maliciously or wantonly, paints, marks, scratches, etches or otherwise marks, injures, mars, defaces or destroys the real or personal property of another including but not limited to a wall, fence, building, sign, rock, monument, gravestone or tablet shall be punished…
Elements of Vandalism in Massachusetts

To be convicted under the Massachusetts vandalism statute, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant marked, painted, etched, marred, defaced, destroyed, or injured property.
  2. The defendant committed this act intentionally. To prove this element, the government has to prove that the defendant acted deliberately and consciously. Evidence that the defendant acted negligently or by accident is not enough.
  3. The act was committed willfully with malice or wantonly. “Willfully” means that the defendant intended both the conduct and the consequences, and the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant intended that his or her conduct have harmful consequences. To prove malice, the Commonwealth must prove more than the deliberate nature of the act. It must prove that the act was done out of hostility, revenge or cruelty. “Wantonly” means that the defendant was indifferent to or consciously disregarded the probability of destruction of or substantial injury to another’s property. Proof of negligence is not enough to prove wanton conduct. To prove wanton conduct, the government must prove that the defendant’s actions went beyond negligence and created a risk of destruction or substantial injury to another’s property that a reasonable person would recognize. A theory involving a wanton act requires only proof of general intent, whereas a theory involving a willful act with malice requires proof of specific intent to achieve the harmful result.
  4. The property was not owned or possessed by the defendant.

Massachusetts property crimes attorney Stephen Neyman has represented numerous individuals charged with vandalism and has consistently achieved outstanding results for individuals throughout the state.

Penalty

The potential punishments for vandalism are as follows:

  1. A state prison sentence of no more than 3 years;
  2. A house of correction sentence of no more than 2 years;
  3. A fine of not more than $1,500 or not more than three times the value of the property vandalized, whichever is greater; or
  4. Both imprisonment and fine.

Additionally, the individual convicted under the vandalism statute is required to pay for the removal or obliteration of the painting, marking, scratching or etching, which may require an evidentiary hearing to determine the value of the property.

Vandalism of Monument

If an individual is convicted of vandalizing a war or veterans’ memorial, monument or gravestone, the fine under the statute is doubled and the court is required to order the convicted individual to complete at least 500 hours of community service.

Driver License Suspension

If an individual is convicted under the Massachusetts vandalism statute, their driver’s license will be suspended for one year. Also, if the defendant is under the age of 16 at the time and is not allowed to obtain a driver’s license yet, then one year is added to their minimum age eligibility for driving.

Defenses to Vandalism Charges

As in all criminal matters, the defenses to vandalism charges will depend on the circumstances and facts of the particular case. The government may not have sufficient evidence to support the charges. There may be an identity issue. There may be issues relative to the value of the damage. In all cases, Attorney Neyman will fight to get the best possible results for his clients, as he has done for nearly three decades. If you or someone you know has been charged with vandalism in Massachusetts, call Attorney Stephen Neyman to discuss your options.

Contact a Property Crimes Attorney in Massachusetts at (617) 263-6800

Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer Stephen Neyman has nearly 30 years of experience representing individuals accused of crimes, including vandalism, throughout Massachusetts. He consistently achieves the best possible results for his clients. Contact Attorney Stephen Neyman by calling (617) 263-6800 or send him an email today. Attorney Neyman’s office can be reached 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, so do not hesitate to call. He will promptly respond and begin building your winning defense.

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