Damage to property is the criminal charge under Wisconsin law that results from willful destruction of property. While damage to property is usually charged as a misdemeanor, there are many circumstances that warrant a felony charge.
Felony Damage to Property – Penalties
Damage to property can be charged as a Class I felony, punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and fines reaching $10,000. Damage to property occurs when you intentionally damage someone else’s property without their consent. If any of the following apply, the charge you face will be a felony.
- The property is a highway or a vehicle and it’s damaged in a way that is likely to cause injury to another person or to cause further future property damage,
- The property belongs to a public utility or “common carrier” and the damage is likely to cause interruption or impairment of service,
- The property is owned by someone who is or was a juror and the damage is done in a retaliatory or threatening manner,
- If the damage done to the property is valued at more than $2,500,
- The damage is committed on state owned land to a fixture of the land that holds significance to the state and its people,
- The damage is done to plants or crops, or
- The property is a machine containing money and the damage is done with intent to commit theft, and the damage is valued at between $500 and $2,500.
Misdemeanor Damage to Property – Penalties
In all other circumstances where you damage the property of someone else without their consent, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. The damage does not have to be intentional.
This charge carries a potential 9 month jail sentence and $10,000 fine.
Ref: Wisconsin Criminal Code §943.01
The legal term for graffiti/tagging vandalism is Graffiti. Graffiti is defined by Wisconsin Criminal law as intentionally writing, marking, or etching onto the property of another without their consent. In most circumstances, this offense is charged as a Class A misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of 9 months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
If the property is a highway, state property, owned by a juror, or if the damage is valued at more than $2,500 you could face Class I felony charges. A class I felony carries a potential 3 ½ years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Ref: Wisconsin Criminal Code §943.017
Arson – Laws & Penalties
Arson is a serious felony property damage crime. There distinctions in the laws, depending on the whether you are accused of intentionally or negligently burning a building or structure, or other property, which could include a car, or even just property damaged by an uncontrolled wildfire.
Arson of a Building
If the property burned in the commission of the crime is a building, then you will face this serious felony offense. Arson of a building is a Class C felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
A Class C felony charge also applies to damage to property by explosion.
Ref: Wisconsin Statute 943.02
Arson of Property (Other than a Building)
If you are accused of intentionally damaging another’s property by fire, you can be charged with a Class I felony. A Class I felony is punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and fines of $10,000, under Wisconsin criminal statutes.
Ref: Wisconsin Statute 943.03