Injury to Property

Besides the domestic violence issues that sometimes plague divorce cases, sometimes a person going through a domestic legal matter will find themselves charged with a related criminal offense that has to do with injury to property. Tempers can flare, and all too often parties can escalate and retaliate against each other while fighting on the home front. Just because one spouse’s rage is not directed at the other does not guarantee that their partner’s physical property will also be immune. Keyed cars, burned clothes and sledgehammered windows are just a few of the forms this damage to property can take in domestic cases.

Charges for crimes against property can take the form of either “injury to personal property” or “injury to real property.” Both are misdemeanors and can further complicate any existing domestic matters such as separation, divorce, child custody and child support.

What is injury to property?

Injury to personal property is the intentional or reckless injury of another person’s personal property, such as a car. Injury to real property, on the other hand, involves the intentional or reckless injury to someone’s land, building, fences, water, or other attachments to the land.

In the legal context, “recklessness” is defined as behavior that shows an indifference to the consequences to one’s actions. It usually requires that the person acting is aware of his or her conduct and acted despite knowing that the conduct would probably result in injury (to another’s property, in this case).

The definition of recklessness is a subjective one that can leave some actions open to interpretation. Defending against a charge of injury against the property of another can be difficult, depending on the extent of the damage and nature of the property. Our society values real property as one of the most personal and valuable things that a person can own, and the law accordingly treats damage to someone’s real property very seriously.

If you are facing charges of injury to either type of property, it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney with experience in these types of cases. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC provide family law and criminal defense services. Because of the crossover in practice areas, our family law attorneys are also well-versed in the ways in which criminal charges can affect either side of a family law case.

What are the Criminal Penalties for Injury to Property?

Depending on the monetary value of the damage done to the property, injury to personal property is either a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor. If the damage is worth more than $200, it will usually be charged as a Class 1 injury to personal property, punishable by a maximum of 120 days in jail. If the damage is $200 or less, it can be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

Meanwhile, injury to real property is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail.

Other related criminal charges that sometimes arises in family law domestic situations involving property include unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, trespass, and violation of a protective order. Please feel free to peruse our pages on these and other criminal charges.

Civil Law Implications for Damage to Property

A person can also be held liable in civil court for damaging another person’s property through either negligence (failure to exercise reasonable care) or intentional behavior. This can result in the person responsible being required to reimburse the owner of the property for its diminished or full value, and potentially subject to punitive damages as well. Related civil law actions in domestic family law situations can include claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

If you have a family law issue that is intertwined with a criminal matter, it is important to have an attorney proficient in both areas of law. Arnold & Smith, PLLC, is a civil and criminal litigation firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our family law and criminal law attorneys have years of experience in helping individuals resolve a wide variety of family law and criminal issues involving separation and divorce, child custody and support, and related criminal issues. Our attorneys employ a client-focused approach to each case to determine the best individualized plan of action. Some family law issues can be resolved out of court through negotiation and mediation with the help of your attorney, while others require aggressive litigation representation. Please feel free to contact us today, or call 704-370-2828 to schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys about your case.