Vandalism and Injury to Personal Property

Vandalism and injury to property are nonviolent property offenses that unlawfully deface or cause damage to property belonging to another. If you, or someone you know has been charged with vandalism or injury to property it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin working on your legal defense.


A charge of vandalism, referred to as “graffiti vandalism” in North Carolina criminal law, involves the alleged illegal writing or marking on the walls of someone else’s real property (“real property consists of real estate and buildings). It does not matter for this charge whether the defaced property is public or private, or whether the graffiti artist used permanent (as opposed to temporary) ink or paint. A vandalism charge is usually a Class 1 misdemeanor and is specifically punishable by a minimum $500 fine. Depending on the circumstances of the case, punishment can also include community service.

If a person has two or more prior convictions for graffiti vandalism from separate instances, a third vandalism charge is chargeable as a Class H felony.

Injury to Property

Similar to but distinct from the charge of vandalism is the charge of injury to another’s property. This can take the form of injury to real property, or injury to personal property. A person can be guilty of injury to property regardless of whether or not the property is destroyed.

  • Injury to real property: The offense of injury to real property can occur when a person “willfully and wantonly” injures any real property whatsoever, regardless of whether it is public or private land or buildings. Behavior is willful and wanton if it displays a conscious and intentional disregard for the rights and safety of others. Injury to real property is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Injury to personal property: Personal property is all other property a person owns that is not real property. Injury to personal property must also demonstrate willful and wanton behavior that intentionally disregards the rights and safety of others. If the damage is $200 or less, injury to personal property is a Class 2 misdemeanor. If the value of the damage caused is more than $200, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, a more serious charge.
Related Charges

Charges related to injury to property and vandalism include, but are not limited to:

  • Injury to trees, crops, lands etc. of another. Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-128 and punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor, this property offense occurs when a person cuts or removes any plant from another’s land without the owner’s consent, or otherwise damages, injures or spoils any tree, wood, timber, garden, crops, or vegetables from another’s land without the owner’s consent.
  • Cutting, injuring or stealing another’s timber. Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-135, removing or injuring cut timber on another party’s property is a Class 1 misdemeanor if the value of the timber was $1,000 or less, and a Class H felony if the value of the timber was more than $1,000.
  • Willfully or negligently setting fire to woods or fields. Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-137, this is a Class 2 misdemeanor. It does not apply to a landowner’s own open, non-wooded lands, or the owner’s fields if it is in connection with farming or building operations and otherwise law-compliant.
  • Trespass. Trespass involves entering or staying on another’s land or enclosed property without permission. To read more about the different types of criminal trespass charges, please visit the Trespass page on the criminal defense portion of our website.

If you or someone you know is facing charges for vandalism, injury to property or one of the other offenses described above, please contact the experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. A criminal conviction for one of these charges can have a lasting impact on a person’s future, particularly when it involves federal property or a large amount of damages. These types of property charges also sometimes arise in domestic situations, such as in the case of separation, custody dispute or divorce. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a criminal defense and civil litigation firm that also handles a wide variety of family law cases involving such disputes. Both our criminal defense and family law attorneys are familiar with the ways in which their respective areas of law can intersect with the other, and the lasting impact each can have. We are now proud to offer three convenient locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe and Mooresville. Please contact us today for an initial consultation with one of our dedicated attorneys to discuss your case.