An accusation of criminal property damage in South Carolina can mean many things. It can be an alleged act of road rage, a domestic fight, careless or reckless behavior, deliberate destruction, or a kid’s prank.
There is also an active trend of graffiti as civil disobedience in South Carolina, in response to an activist uprising over civil war era names of buildings, streets, and monuments.
Whatever incident lead to damaged property, the formal charge under the law is called malicious injury.
Under SC law, it is illegal to willfully or maliciously injure, damage, or destroy the property of another. This includes buildings, animals, land, or any other personal property.
Penalties for Malicious Injury (Property Damage)
The charge and potential penalty you face for this offense depends on the value or cost of the damage committed.
|Damage Value||Charge||Potential Sentence|
|$5,000 or more||Felony||Up to 10 years in prison|
|$1,000 to $5,000||Felony||Up to 5 years in prison|
|Less than $1,000||Misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in jail.|
Ref: SC Code §16-11-510
Illegal Graffiti Vandalism
Graffiti is defined under the law as “illegal graffiti vandalism”, which is described as inscription, writing, drawing, marking or design that is painted … on buildings, dwellings, statutes, monuments, or other private or public property”, and is against the consent of the owners.
Graffiti offenses are misdemeanor charges. The penalty depends on whether or not there are prior convictions.
|Offense||Fine||Potential Jail Sentence|
|First||Up to $1000||Up to 90 days in jail|
|Second (within 10 yrs)||Up to $2500||Up to 1 years in prison|
|Third or Subsequent||Up to $3000||Up to 3 years in prison|
In addition to the fines, restitution is often added on to include the cost of removal of graffiti or vandalism.
n Ref: SC Code §16-11-770
Malicious Injury to a Place of Worship
If the prosecution has probable cause to believe you willfully, unlawfully, and maliciously damaged, vandalized, or destroyed or if you attempted to do any of these things to a place of worship, you will be charged with this serious felony offense.
Malicious Injury to a place of worship is a felony that carries a potential sentence of 6 months to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. This means that you will serve at least 6 months if convicted of this crime.
Ref: SC Code §16-11-535
Burning Personal Property to Defraud Insurer
The charge of burning personal property to defraud insurer is the legal term in South Carolina for arson by fraud. If you are charged with this arson, the prosecution has reason to believe that acting with an intent to defraud, you willfully set fire or burned insured personal property of any kind (whether your own or someone else’s).
This is a serious felony offense which carries a potential sentence of at least one and up to 5 years in prison.
Ref: SC Code §16-11-130
Negligently Allowing Fire to Spread to Lands or Property of Another
This offense is committed when you carelessly or negligently set fire or burn any grass, leaves, or other combustible matter on land in a way that allows the fire to spread onto the land of another. Whether you set the fire or were an accomplice in the matter, you could be charged with this offense.
This is charged is cases of arson without fraudulent or deliberate intent to damage property.
This is a misdemeanor charge and for a first time offense the potential sentence is from 5 days to 30 days in jail and fines reaching from $25 to $200. If you have been convicted of this offense before your sentence would be from 30 to 100 days with fines of $100 to $500.
Ref: SC Code §16-11-180