Federal Vandalism Lawyers in Miami
Defending You Against All Types of Federal Crimes
Although most people know that vandalism is against the law in Florida, few are aware that in certain cases, defendants can also be prosecuted in federal court for the crime of vandalism. Federal crimes tend to be prosecuted and punished much more aggressively than state offenses. So, if you have been charged with vandalism in federal court, it is critical that you speak with an attorney, without delay.
Under federal law, it is unlawful to destroy, injure, deface, or damage property or real property. The regulations prohibiting federal vandalism apply, regardless of ownership, on all lands and waters within a park area that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States, which includes parks, historic buildings, and government structures.
Those who are accused of vandalism can also be charged with additional offenses, including:
- Trespassing, which involves entering or remaining in or upon property or real property not open to the public, except with the express invitation or consent of the person having lawful control of the property.
- Tampering, or attempting to tamper with property or real property, or moving, manipulating, or setting in motion any of the parts of the property unless is under one’s lawful control or possession.
- Harassment, which involves intentional or reckless harassment of visitors, with physical contact.
- Obstruction, which involves intentionally or recklessly obstructing a sidewalk, highway, trail, railroad track, building entranceway, public utility right-of-way, building entranceway, or other public passage whether alone or with others. It is important to note that the mere gathering of persons to hear a speaker communicate, or simply being a member of such a gathering, does not constitute obstruction.
What Qualifies as Vandalism
Vandalism is broadly defined as the destruction or defacement of another person’s property and often includes:
- Spray painting
- Throwing eggs or other objects
- Breaking windows
- Defacing park benches
Although the government is not required to prove that a defendant knew that the property belonged to the United States, prosecutors do need to provide evidence that the accused purposefully and, with the knowledge that the activity was against the law, inflicted the damage. The penalties that defendants face depend on the level and value of the damage inflicted on the property. For instance, if the damage exceeds $100, the accused will be charged with a felony, which could mean up to 10 years in prison. Damage valued at less than $100 will instead be charged as a misdemeanor, which is still punishable by up to one year of imprisonment. If there is evidence of an element of bias as a motive for the offense, the defendant could also be charged with a hate crime. These types of crimes are often charged when vandalism seems to be racially motivated or when there is evidence that offensive symbols or imagery were used during the alleged crime.
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Those who are convicted of vandalism face exorbitant fines, and even jail time. This can have a devastating effect on defendants, many of whom are irresponsible teenagers who did not realize the gravity of their actions.
Having a solid defense is critical in these types of cases, so if you or your child were charged with vandalizing federal property, please contact the legal team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. by calling (305) 985-6640 today.
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