As a Massachusetts criminal defense firm, we understand that people often act without thinking through the consequences, especially during or after an argument, other emotionally charged time, or while intoxicated. Of course, an individual may accidentally damage property or damage it through carelessness. If you are accused or charged with malicious destruction of property, retaining an experienced Cambridge criminal defense lawyer is likely your best hope of either successfully resolving the case prior to trail or being acquitted by a jury following a trial. Give us a call. We can help.
What is Malicious Destruction of Property?
Massachusetts G.L. c.266, §127 criminalizes malicious destruction of property. To prove an individual is guilty of malicious destruction of property, the Commonwealth must prove that he willfully and maliciously injured or destroyed the personal property of another. If the District Attorney’s Office has charged the individual with malicious destruction of property in excess of $250.00, it must obviously prove that the value of property was greater than $250.00.
Defining “Willfully” & “Maliciously”
For purposes of the statute, an individual acts “willfully” when he deliberately destroys or damages the property, in contrast to doing so thoughtlessly or accidentally. An individual acts in a “malicious” manner where he is motivated by hostility or revenge. To qualify as “malicious,” an individual must do more than act deliberately, he must do so out of hostility toward the owner of the property. The individual need not know the identity of the owner to have acted maliciously toward the property. In contrast, if an individual acted in a wanton manner, he damaged or destroyed the property through recklessness, without the intent to destroy the property.
Valuing the Property
To determine the property’s value, it must first be determined if the property is repairable. If the property is repairable, its value is determined by the cost to repair it, as opposed to its fair market value. If the property is valued at more than $250.00, a Court can sentence an individual convicted of malicious destruction of property to up to 2 ½ years in the house of corrections, or up to 10 years in State prison, and/or fine him $3,000.00, or three times the property value, whichever is greater. If the individual is convicted of wanton destruction of property, a court may fine him $1,500.00 or three times the property value, whichever is greater, and/or sentence him up to 2 ½ years in the house of corrections.
Contact a Cambridge, MA Criminal Lawyer
If you or a loved one is accused or charged with malicious destruction of property, call us at 617-492-0055. We have been successful at persuading judges and prosecutors to dismiss the charges.