Columbus Criminal Property Damage Overview
Many criminal laws prohibit certain violent actions that are committed toward people or the general public. The purpose of these offenses are to prohibit dangerous behavior and keep people safe. However, there are a number of criminal laws that are not only intended to keep people safe, they also protect people’s property. Ohio’s property damage laws are intended to punish individuals who violate another person’s ownership rights and decrease the value of another person’s property.
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Ohio Criminal Damage Laws
There are many property damage laws that could result in your being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense in Columbus. Some of the most common property crimes include:
- Arson §2909.03 – It is illegal to knowingly, by means of fire or explosion, cause physical harm, or a substantial risk of harm, to any property, including buildings, residences, or land, without consent. Arson is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. However, various circumstances can raise the charge to a fourth- or third-degree felony. Additionally, if you are accused of knowingly, by means of fire or explosion, creating a substantial risk of serious physical harm to any other person or causing physical harm to an occupied structure, then you will be charged with aggravated arson, which is a second- or first-degree felony. If you are accused of any level of arson, immediately call a criminal property damage attorney for help. The last thing you want is an arson conviction on your record.
- Vandalism §2909.05 – You are prohibited from knowingly causing serious physical harm to an occupied structure or its contents, which means causing physical harm that results in damage valued at $1,000 or more. If you are charged with vandalism, you face a fifth-degree felony, punishable by a fine up to $2,500, in addition to the normal fines. However, if the value of the property is between $7,500 and $150,000, then vandalism is a fourth-degree felony. If the property or the amount of physical harm is valued at more than $150,000, then it is a third-degree felony. If someone is pointing the finger at you for serious damage done to their property, do not hesitate to call one of our criminal property damage lawyers.
- Criminal Damage §2909.06 – It is illegal to knowingly cause or create a substantial risk of physical harm to any property without the owner’s consent or to recklessly do so by means of fire, explosion, flood, poison, gas, caustic or corrosive materials, or any inherently dangerous substance. Criminal damage is a second-degree misdemeanor. However, if you put another person in danger of injury, you will face a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Criminal Mischief §2909.07 – It is the privilege to knowingly move, deface, destroy, damage, or otherwise taper with the property of another without permission. Criminal mischief is often a third-degree misdemeanor. However, the charge can be higher depending on the circumstances. If you created a risk of physical harm to any person, you may be charged with a fifth-degree felony. Criminal mischief and damage charges often arise because a prank got out of hand. If you fell in with the wrong crowd or made an error in judgement, seek out the help of an experienced criminal property damage attorney to reduce the likelihood of an overly harsh outcome to your case.
Statutory Penalties for Property Damage Offenses
If you have been charged with a property offense in Columbus, the potential statutory penalty depends on the level of the crime:
- Fourth-degree misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $250
- Third-degree misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500
- Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $750
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000
- Fifth-degree felony: Up to 12 months in prison and a fine up to $2,500
- Fourth-degree felony: Up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000
- Third-degree felony: Up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- Second-degree felony: Up to 8 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000
- First-degree felony: Up to 11 years in prison, unless a longer imprisonment is allowed by a specific statute, and a fine up to $20,000
You can also be sentenced to probation, community service, and counseling. In most cases you will have to pay restitution to the owner of the property, which can require a significant amount of money.
Collateral Consequences of Property Crimes
Any criminal property damage attorney will tell you, the real penalties you face for a property crime conviction go far beyond the statutory punishments. After the fines, incarceration, probation, and restitution, you will have to deal with many secondary consequences of having a misdemeanor or felony on your record.
Some common collateral consequences that arise when you have a permanent criminal record include:
- Difficulty maintain your current employment or obtaining a new job
- Difficulty remaining in school or being accepted into a college or graduate program
- Inability to obtain a professional license
- Difficulty obtaining a loan
- Difficulty being approved for rental housing
- Immigration issues, including denial of a visa renewal, permanent residency, or citizenship application
- Child custody issues
- For a felony, loss of voting rights while incarcerated
- For a felony, permanent loss of firearm rights
How Our Columbus Criminal Property Damage Lawyers Can Help
When you are being accused of a property crime or have already been charged, the best thing you can do for yourself is to call us at Luftman, Heck & Associates. We believe in taking an aggressive and comprehensive approach to your case. We will initially conduct an independent investigation into what happened, gather as much as evidence as we can to support your defense. We will review every piece of evidence, including lab reports, police reports and investigative notes, and photos, video, and audio. This investigation enables us to pinpoint the prosecution’s weaknesses and build you the strongest defense available under the law.
Once we have all of the facts, we can discuss with your next best steps. We may pursue having the charges dropped or dismissed. If we are unable to end the case at this point, we will consider your various options. In some situations, the best way to minimize the consequences of a potential conviction is to negotiate a plea bargain. However, we also may have a strong case that you prefer to take to trial.
Contact Our Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help
Do not try and face criminal charges alone or rely on a public defender who has far too many cases on their plate. By calling the Columbus property damage laywers at Luftman, Heck & Associates, you get an experienced, aggressive, and trusted criminal property damage attorney on your case. We have the skills, resources, and time you need to defend your rights and mount a strong defense.
For over a decade, the Columbus criminal defense lawyers at LHA have successfully represented clients on criminal offenses ranging from minor misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. That extensive previous experience will enable us to better help you.