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Laws Concerning Malicious Mischief

NRS 206.310 – Summary of the Laws Concerning Malicious Mischief

State prosecutors and law enforcement in Las Vegas, and elsewhere in Nevada, take vandalism very seriously. If convicted of vandalism (also known as malicious mischief), you could be ordered to pay hefty fines, devote hundreds of hours to community service, lose your driving privileges, and even be forced to serve time in jail.

Malicious Mischief Laws in Nevada

NRS 206.310 is the statutory provision that prohibits vandalism. This statute specifically states:

Every person who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or injure any real or personal property of another, for the destruction or injury of which no special punishment is otherwise specially prescribed, shall be guilty of a public offense proportionate to the value of the property affected or the loss resulting from such offense.

Malicious mischief is an extremely broad offense. Just some common examples of vandalism include:

  • earing down a billboard – NRS 206.310
  • Carving words into building facades – NRS 206.310
  • Driving over a neighbor’s fence – NRS 206.310
  • Breaking church windows – NRS 206.125
  • Pouring acid on farm crops – NRS 206.115
  • Defacing Indian wall paintings – learn more about the Nevada crime of vandalizing historic sites (NRS 381.225)
  • Spraying graffiti (“tagging”) on a highway overpass – NRS 206.330
  • Writing with a marker on the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign – NRS 206.3302

Does This Statute Apply to Both Public and Private Property?

Yes. NRS 206.310 is applicable to both public and private property. Also, it does not matter whether the property that was vandalized is real estate, an automobile, personal belongings, etc.

Vandalizing Foreclosed Properties

It is important to point out that the Nevada legislature passed a law, specifically NRS 206.045, that prohibited the vandalization of foreclosed homes in the area. This separate and targeted law was passed due to a spike in malicious mischief in the aftermath of the 2008 housing crisis.

A person may be convicted of violating NRS 206.045 if:

  1. The person occupies real property;
  2. The person has personal knowledge of a foreclosure action against the property;
  3. The person removes, conceals, or destroys any portion of the real property;
  4. The person vandalizes with property with to defraud the secured party in the foreclosure proceeding; and
  5. The person causes the secured party to suffer a monetary loss upon the conclusion of the foreclosure of the property

Basically, it is against the law for inhabitants of property being foreclosed upon to vandalize that property if:

  1. they intend to defraud the mortgagee, and
  2. the vandalism causes the mortgagee to lose money.

Defending Against Malicious Mischief Charges

There are three common defenses that can be raised when you are charged with allegedly violating NRS 206.310. These defenses include:

  1. The defendant did not act intentionally or with actual malice;
  2. The defendant had the property owner’s consent; and/or
  3. The defendant was falsely accused.

Let’s take a look at each potential defense:

Lacked the Intent or Actual Malice to Vandalize Property

If the damage to another person’s property was caused by an accident or out of necessity due to unforeseen and life-threatening circumstances, your lawyer could assert that you lacked the necessary intent to vandalize the property. For example, if you are riding your bicycle on a Las Vegas road and one of your tires suddenly becomes deflated and you collide with a fence on another person’s property, the chances of you being convicted for vandalizing the fence are slim to none since you never intended to damage the property.

You Had the Consent of the Property Owner

No malicious mischief occurred in Nevada if the owner of the property granted you permission to damage said property. If your defense attorney can show that the defendant reasonably believed they had the owner’s approval, the vandalism charges should be dropped.

Helpful evidence to show consent would be written communications between the defendant and property owner as well as eyewitnesses who heard the owner giving consent.

Police Arrested the Wrong Person

Acts of vandalism most frequently occur in the evening time and are done so expeditiously. In addition, many vandals wear obscure clothing and masks in an effort to protect their identities. As a result, it is difficult for an eyewitness to recognize who committed the vandalism. This often leads to false arrests and misidentifications during criminal line-ups.

If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the person who caused the damage, then the NRS 206.310 charge should be dismissed. Typical evidence in these cases include:

  • surveillance video,
  • forensic evidence, and/or
  • eyewitnesses

How Penalties for Vandalism are Assessed in a Nevada Court

Nevada judges determine a vandalism sentence based on various factors including:

  • the extent of the damage;
  • the defendant’s previous vandalism convictions;
  • the location of the vandalism; and
  • the type of property vandalized

Enhanced Penalties If Vandalism Was Committed for the Benefit of a Gang

It has been noted that many alleged violations of NRS 206.310 routinely involve members of gangs. This is why it is important to note that when a defendant is found to have vandalized property for the benefit of a gang, they could potentially have their jail or prison sentence doubled at the discretion of the judge.

Charged with Vandalism? Schedule a Free Consultation with LV Criminal Defense Today

LV Criminal Defense can provide you with assistance if you have been charged with allegedly committing an act of vandalism or malicious mischief. Our legal team fully understands how to fight against these types of accusations. Depending upon the nature of the crime you’ve been accused of and the strength of the evidence against you, we could devise a defense strategy that includes negotiating a plea agreement. Other options include taking your case to trial and advocating for acquittal, or we could attempt to get the charges dropped entirely. To learn more, contact our office today.

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