Criminal Damage to Property Second Degree
Criminal Damage to Property In The Second Degree is one of the most common types of property damage crimes in the state. Property damage involves intentionally and knowingly doing something that destroys or damages property belonging to another person. The damage is done without the permission of the owner.
Atlanta Georgia separates the crime of damaging property into one of two degrees. The degrees define the harshness of the crime and the severity of the punishment. The first degree property damage, found under O.C.G.A. 16-7-22, is the most severe.
It makes anyone guilty of property damage if they commit the crime without authority. It is also a crime if they knowingly endangered human life. They can be found guilty if they knowingly interfered with a public entity such as public communication or public utility without authority too.
What is Criminal Damage to Property In The Second Degree in Atlanta Georgia?
Criminal damage in the second degree is the lesser charge of the two crimes. The crime focuses on the amount of property and the intent to damage. You may be charged with the second degree if you intentionally damaged property belonging to another person. You are accused of doing so without the consent of the property owner. The property damaged is valued at $500 or less.
Also under criminal code 16-7-23, or second-degree property damage, you can be charged if you recklessly or intentionally damaged property. They damaged property by using fire or an explosive. An example of this element is if you took a friend’s phone and intentionally set it on fire.
The criminal act does not require you to have a reason to damage property like catching a spouse cheating or retaliation. Georgia prosecutors must only show you intended to somehow destroy property that belonged to another individual.
What You May Not Know about Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree in Atlanta Georgia
You do not have to violate all three of the elements listed in the statute. Instead, you only have to violate one element. The part of the common law definition requires wrongful interference on another person’s real property or personal property. Wrongful interference means that you allegedly did not have the right to touch the other person’s property.
Another thing you may not know is the law assumes you will go up on someone’s land or take the property to do something else. For instance, you may allegedly go onto a stranger’s property to get your dog. However, the law assumes you use that excuse to do something criminal like assault the homeowner or burglarize the building.
You may not think of the government as having property. That you cannot touch. It does. You can be charged with second-degree criminal trespass if you allegedly do something to public property. For example, you can be arrested for trespassing on a government’s property and deface, mutilate or defile any type of property belonging to the government like:
- Grave, memorial or memorial of deceased military personnel
- Plaque, marker, memorial or monument honoring military service
- Any military property belonging to the United States, Georgia or any other state
You can be arrested in your own home if you are accused of damaging property that belongs to another while at your home. The common law notion of wrongful interference does not take into consideration whether you were actually in your own home when you allegedly damaged property or entered the property where someone lives. For instance, you can be charged with second-degree criminal trespass if you have a renter in your home.
You go into their room. The renter then accuses you of taking their property and/or damaging it. You can be arrested and charged. That does not mean you are guilty. It means you allegedly went into a part of your home you were not allowed and took or damaged property that did not belong to you.
Criminal trespass, as mentioned before, can quickly happen. Permission to be on a property that does not belong to you is not permanent. At any time, the property owner can tell you to leave. You have to do so in a specific amount of time. In other words, you have to leave in a reasonable about of time. If they allegedly told you to leave and it was 10:30 p.m. you cannot leave at 10:30 a.m. That would be considered violating one of the elements of criminal trespass.
You have seen plenty of no trespassing signs to let you know that you are not allowed on a property. The owner does not want you on their property without permission. However, they do not have to post that sign for you to be in legal trouble for going on to their property. That is why you cannot use the fact that they did not have a posted sign as a defense.
Criminal Damage to Property In The Second Degree is not a Misdemeanor Charge in Atlanta Georgia
Destroying another individual’s property is not a misdemeanor, but a felony charge. A felony charge includes prison time. For instance, property damage in the first degree is punishable by one to 10 years in prison.
The criminal punishment for a second-degree property damage felony is one to five years in prison.
Contact Yeargan & Kert, LLC regarding your Criminal Damage to Property In The Second Degree Charge in Atlanta Georgia
Get your free case evaluation regarding your property damage in the second-degree charge at Yeargan & Kert, LLC. You need to know the defenses available to you to fight this charge. The specific criminal defense will depend on the facts of the case.
For example, you must knowingly have damaged property valued at under $500. If you did not mean to do it or did not know you damaged someone’s property, you cannot be convicted of the property damage.
The first step in fighting your property damage charge is understanding what criminal charge you are facing. You now know more information about the criminal charge. The next step is to understand the best defense to win your case. Contact Yeargan & Kert, LLC for your free case evaluation.