Is vandalism a serious crime in Minnesota?

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Young people are usually full of energy and exuberance, but those high spirits can sometimes get them into serious trouble.

Vandalism, for example, is often thought of as a “minor” offense – the product of youthful indiscretions, at worst. However, that’s not how the law sees it.

What’s considered vandalism in this state?

Vandalism is any deliberate act that defaces, damages or destroys another person’s property. It can include things like:

  • Graffiti: Your teen may be a budding artist or protesting some social injustice, but painting on a building, bridge, monument or city wall is a crime.
  • Broken windows: Throwing rocks at the windows of an abandoned building may seem like a harmless act, but property damage is still property damage.
  • Keying a car: Whether it involves a romantic dispute or not, keying someone’s car is considered much more than a petty act of revenge.
  • Stealing street signs: This may be a time-honored tradition among teens, but it’s actually heavily prosecuted due to safety concerns.
  • Damaging cemeteries: Teens have long been known to use cemeteries as places to discreetly hold parties, but damaged headstones and crypts are no joking matter.

Under Minnesota law, it’s a first-degree offense if the property damage involves a reasonable risk of causing someone bodily harm (like arson), interferes with public services (like tampering with a utility box) or causes more than $1,000 worth of damage ($500, if the offender has been convicted before). That can lead to up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

As a result, it’s important to seek legal guidance after you or your child has been accused of vandalism. The stakes are too high to ignore.