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What Is Considered Vandalism in Tennessee?

High levels of stress or anxiety could cause a person to release that tension on a nearby object. However, doing so could result in the individual being accused of vandalizing property.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, vandalism is one of the top three crimes in the state. Generally defined, the offense is committed when a person destroys the property of another individual or entity. Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the level of and cost of damage.

What Is Vandalism?

Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-14-408 defines vandalism as intentionally damaging or polluting land, buildings, or personal property of an individual or the local, state, or federal government. It is also illegal to tamper with another’s property in a way that causes financial loss or inconveniences the owner or a third party. Releasing chemicals or other harmful substances into the air, water, or soil to intentionally cause injury to others is also unlawful.

To be considered an offense under this law, the person who destroyed the object or structure must not have had the owner’s consent.

The act does not have to be committed against the property that a person is currently in control of. For example, if an individual breaks a window of an unoccupied building, they could be charged with vandalism. If they enter that structure without permission, they could also be charged with criminal trespassing.

Vandalism Conviction Penalties

The punishments a violator could face depends on the value of the item damaged.

This offense is charged as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor for an item valued at less than $500
  • Class E felony for an object worth $500 to $1,000
  • Class D felony if the property value was $1,000 to $10,000
  • Class C felony for an item worth $10,000 to $60,000
  • Class B felony for anything valued over $60,000

The penalties vary depending on the level of offense. If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor, they could face up to 1 year in jail and $2,500 in fines. However, a felony conviction could result in prison time anywhere from 1 to 30 years and $3,000 to $25,000 in fines.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Eldridge & Blakney

Being charged with a criminal offense such as vandalism can be a frightening experience, as you might not be aware of how the process works or how the charge could affect your future. That is why our skilled team is here to provide effective defense every step of the way. We will work closely with you to help you understand the allegations and your legal options. Additionally, our attorneys will take the time to hear your side of the story and develop an effective strategy to fight charges.

To speak with one of our attorneys, call us at (865) 999-0350 or contact us online.