A property damage crime like malicious destruction is more serious than you may think. And an arson charge is a major felony with a strong prospect of jail time if you are convicted of the offense.
Anytime you go before the Maryland criminal courts as a defendant, it is quite intimidating. Whether this is your first exposure to the system or if you have been to court before, facing criminal charges can be frightening and is always stressful.
Criminal acts of property damage in Maryland are typically the result of either personal disputes or general mischief.
If you were in an argument with someone, and lost your temper and did some damage to their property, you could be facing this charge. Examples of this could be keying someone’s car, destroying or disposing of property that was in a disputed location, road rage, or things getting broken in the heat of an argument or domestic dispute.
In many of these cases, we can argue that any damage was accidental, and restitution is a more reasonable result, and the criminal offense should be dropped.
Of course, if you are being accused of something you didn’t do, we need to challenge the prosecution to provide real evidence that this happened, and get your charges dismissed. A mistaken identity or a willfully false report by someone who is mad at you is also a real possibility in these cases.
Vandalism can also be a form of malicious destruction under Maryland law.
Malicious Destruction – Laws & Penalties
Under Maryland law, if you willfully destroy, injure, or deface the property of another, you can be charged with this offense. The sentence you will face depends on the value of property damage.
If the value of property damage is less than $500, the charge is a misdemeanor and carries a potential 60-day jail sentence and $500 fine.
If the value is more than $500, the sentence is elevated to up to 3 years and fines of $2,500.
Keep in mind, the court can also require you to pay for the damage. This is called restitution and is not part of the fines ordered at sentencing.
Ref: Maryland Statutes Title 6-3
Maryland Arson Laws
First Degree Arson
First-degree arson involves maliciously burning or setting fire to a dwelling or place where someone is present.
This is a serious felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. This offense can even apply to burning your own property.
Second Degree Arson
If you set fire to or burn a structure, you can be charged with this felony. Second-degree arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of $30,000.
First Degree Malicious Burning
If you set fire to the personal property of another and it results in damage valued at more than $1,000, you could be facing 1st-degree malicious burning charges. This offense carries a potential 5-year prison sentence and $5,000 fine.
Second Degree Malicious Burning
If you set fire to someone else’s property and the damage is valued at less than $1,000, you could be charged with this misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you would face up to 18 months in jail and $500 in fines.
Ref: Maryland Statute Title 6-1
Get The Legal Advice You Need on a Criminal Charge in Maryland
Any criminal charge is a difficult situation for you. It may feel like no one is interested in hearing your side of the case. We are. We want to hear all about your case and we want to help you during this time. Contact us to find out how we can help you through this, and put this unfortunate legal problem behind you.
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