Injury to Personal Property
Legal issues that can often be associated with each other are domestic or civil matters and criminal charges stemming from an emotional conflict between the two parties. An example of something done in the domestic context also having criminal consequences can involve injury to different types of property. Injury to property can be broken into two broad categories: injury to personal property and injury to real property. You can find the article about Injury to Real Property here.Injury to Personal Property
Injury to personal property is defined as the willful or wanton injury to the personal property of another. Injury to personal property can either be a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 2 misdemeanor, depending almost entirely on the cost of the damage inflicted on the property. If the damage caused is more than $200, class 1 injury to personal property is the more appropriate charge, and it is punishable by a maximum of 120 days in jail. If under $200 in damage is caused, class 2 injury to personal property is triggered, subjecting the actor to a maximum jail sentence of 60 days.
Injury to personal property often involves a conflict between individuals that have a previous relationship with each other that escalates into one party taking action against the property of the other in retaliation. In a domestic context, if you and your significant other get into a fight, one party may leave the family residence. On their way out, they may take their anger out on their spouse’s car by slashing a tire or keying the car. In doing so, they have arguably injured the others personal property, and therefore could be charged with injury to personal property. But what if you both own the car? Does it belong to “another?” And what exactly fits the definition of personal property?
One common difficulty in proving injury to property charges are often times the retaliatory actions are committed outside the presence of the owner, and the only way you can prove it was a specific person is by circumstantial evidence. For example, if you go inside a restaurant for dinner and when you come out after finishing find your car has been keyed, how can you prove who did it? And if you are charged with either of these offenses, how can someone prove it was actually you?
Other complications arise when the property “of another” is owned by a non-person entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or business. Specific facts must be alleged in a situation such as this, and failure to properly allege may render the charges fatally defective. Many other issues that arise with respect to injury to real property can likewise be found in injury to personal property cases.
Other examples include when your phone gets thrown on the ground during an argument, dents, scratches, broken glass and other fixtures on a vehicle, as well as torn or damaged clothes, jewelry and other accessories. Since the statute only requires “injury” and not “destruction”, valuation is clearly an extremely important issue. The amount of damage done is the sole factor that determines whether class 1 or class 2 injury to personal property is the more accurate charge, and trials can sometimes focus entirely on putting a dollar amount to the cost of the damage done.
At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we have award winning attorneys with experience defending charges like injury to property who are ready, willing and able to help you with both criminal and any related civil law needs. If you think that someone has caused damage to your property, we can help advise you on whether the proper course of action is to take out criminal charges or sue civilly to recover for damages. Contact our office and let us get to work helping you!