Auto Body Blog

It’s All About Intent: Is Attempted Vandalism a Crime?

Whether you are successful in your attempt to damage or break into your neighbor’s vehicle, you will still be in trouble if you get caught.

As with most violent crimes, any charge of vandalism against public or private property must prove the intent to cause damage. As difficult as it can be to prove intent, the burden of such proof often lies with the defendant. So before you decide to key someone’s car, consider the difficulty of combating such an accusation in the local court.

Attempted Vandalism Is Still Vandalism

It’s not hard to imagine a pitiful would-be vandal trying to punch in a car door window, failing to do any damage at all, and giving up in shame. If you call the police on them and they are arrested, how would they be charged?

When a teenager takes to the streets with a can of spray paint and gets caught by police, determining their intent to apply graffiti is fairly straightforward. In some cases, determining intent may not be so simple. For example, the difference between manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter is often intent, specifically purposeful crime versus accidents due to negligence.

Defined as “criminal mischief” in Utah, state criminal code describes the act of vandalism in a few different ways: causing minor damage to defraud insurance, intentionally damaging someone’s property (including the attempt), or willfully placing others in harm’s way. The severity of the charges ranges from Class B misdemeanors to a first-degree felony, depending on declared threats of violence and the total monetary amount of damage caused.

The penalties for such vandalism is as follows:

  • $300 in damages and below: Class B misdemeanor, $1,000 fine and six months in jail
  • $300 to $1,000 in damages and endangers others: Class A misdemeanor, $2,500 fine and a year in jail
  • $1,000 to $5,000 in damages: third-degree felony, up to $5,000 fine and five years in prison
  • If a person commits or attempts to commit a serious interruption of infrastructure or causes more than $5,000 in damage: second-degree felony, up to $10,000 fine and up to fifteen years in prison

How Specific Is the Law?

Utah criminal law covers a wide range of actions, especially those that are defined by intent. Criminal mischief is clear about the consequences of causing damage to someone’s property, but what if they simply threaten to perform the act? Even if the threat is simply implied, this is defined as a “threat of violence”, which is a Class B misdemeanor. As the law states, if the person didn’t perform the act, or even became unable to perform it, this cannot be used as a defence because the intent was clear.

Call Schneider Auto Karosserie Body & Paint in Salt Lake City to Repair Attempted Vandalism Damage

As frustrating as it may be, keeping the body of your car in good condition means a longer lifespan. Even if the damage is cosmetic, fill out our contact form for pricing information or give us a call at (801)-484-9400. We will work with your insurance to get your auto body in fresh factory quality once more.