Wilful and Malicious Destruction of Property

In Massachusetts, the wilful and malicious destruction of property is considered a felony crime. It is distinguished from wanton destruction of property which is a misdemeanor offense. With wilful and malicious destruction of property, there is an element of malicious intent by the actor that must be present. With over 37,000 of these property crimes reported in Boston last year, you can be certain that the police are doing what they can to stop these alarming property crime numbers.

The police always seem to choose to file the malicious destruction of property charge rather than seeking a wanton destruction of property charge. They do not realize, however, that the malicious intent element is often difficult or impossible for the prosecutor to prove in court. The case may only be a wanton destruction of property case but they usually do not bring this alternative count in the complaint. Wanton destruction of property is not a lesser included offensive of malicious destruction of property because there are different elements involved in both crimes. With the latter, the government must prove that the destruction of or injury to the property was wilful and malicious, not simply wanton. The terms wilful and malicious require proof of a cruel, hostile or vengeful intent in addition to the intentional doing of the act itself. The value of the property destroyed or injured is critical to the charge and is set at over $250. The malicious destruction of property law in Massachusetts is codified in M.G.L. 266 §127 which makes it a crime to wilfully and maliciously destroy the property of another. In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant injured or destroyed the personal property, house, dwelling or building of another.
  2. That the defendant did so wilfully;
  3. That the defendant did so with malice;
  4. That the amount of damage inflicted to the property was more then $250.

Massachusetts penalties for felony wilful and malicious destruction of property are quite severe. The Massachusetts Legislature takes the destruction of property seriously. Prosecutors in Massachusetts look to punish those convicted of this crime in several ways. They seek to deter future similar conduct and to compensate the victims for the damages sustained. A conviction of this offense is as follows:

  • Incarceration in state prison for up to 10 years;
  • A fine of up to three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) or three times the value of the property destroyed, whichever is greater;
  • Incarceration in the county house of correction for up to two and one half 2½ years

If the destruction of the property is wanton then you can be punished as follows:

  • A fine of up to one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) or up to three times the value of the property, whichever is greater;
  • Imprisonment in the county house of correction for up to two and one half 2½ years

If the value of the destroyed property does not exceed $250.00:

  • A fine of up to three times the value of the property;
  • Imprisonment of up to 2 ½ months in the county house of correction

It is important that a person charged with this offense contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer who has significant experience in defending malicious destruction of property cases. It is always a very good idea to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as you know that you are facing an investigation or charges. Attorney Murphy has the experience to persuade the prosecution, a jury or the judge of the intent of the person charged with the offense.

Boston, Massachusetts Wilful and Malicious Destruction of Property Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is an aggressive and skilled Massachusetts criminal defense trial attorney who has nineteen years of successful experience defending clients. Let Attorney Murphy help you avoid the detrimental repercussions a criminal offense could have on your future. Contact Attorney Murphy by calling (617) 367-0450 or completing the contacts tab on our website. As a dedicated legal advocate, Attorney Murphy is available 24/7 for a free and confidential assessment of your case.

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