Criminal Damage to Property Lawyer & Property Damage Attorney

As an experienced property damage lawyer, I have represented clients charged with property and other crimes for over two decades.

If you or a loved one was charged with criminal damage to property in Wisconsin, I invite you to call my office at (608) 271-2271 to schedule a free consultation. At Avena Law Office, I offer affordable rates, fixed fees, and credit card payments. I am also fluent in Spanish

I invite you to call me today so that I can get started representing you.  In the interim, the following answers a number of commonly-asked questions about criminal damage to property charges.

What Is Criminal Damage to Property?

Criminal property damage refers to the intentional destruction, defacement, or alteration of another person’s property without their consent. This can range from minor instances, such as graffiti, to more severe cases, such as arson. Wisconsin law treats this offense seriously, particularly when the damage caused significantly reduces the property’s value or poses a risk to public safety.[1]

What Types of Actions Can Be Considered Criminal Damage to Property?

The following are several examples of actions that could be considered criminal damage to property under Wisconsin law:

  • Vandalism. This includes actions such as graffiti, breaking windows, damaging fences, or any other act that intentionally defaces or destroys another’s property.
  • Arson. Deliberately setting fire to another person’s property, including buildings, vehicles, or other structures, falls under this category.
  • Damaging Vehicles. This could involve keying a car, slashing tires, breaking windows, or any other act that intentionally damages someone else’s vehicle.
  • Destruction of Personal Items. Intentionally breaking or damaging another person’s personal belongings, such as furniture, electronics, or clothing, could be considered criminal damage to property.
  • Damage to Public Property. This includes damaging or defacing public buildings, parks, monuments, or other public property.
  • Crop or Livestock Damage. Deliberately damaging another person’s crops or harming their livestock can also be considered criminal damage to property.
  • Tampering with Utilities. Damaging, interfering with, or causing a disruption to another person’s utilities, such as cutting power lines or damaging water pipes, is another form of criminal damage to property.

It is important to note that these are just examples. In reality, any act that intentionally causes damage to another person’s property without their consent could potentially be considered criminal damage to property under Wisconsin law.

What Are the Penalties for Criminal Damage to Property in Wisconsin?

In many situations, criminal property damage is viewed as a Class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin. Those found guilty may face penalties such as a prison term of approximately nine months and a fine that could reach as high as $10,000. These are considerable consequences, emphasizing the seriousness with which Wisconsin views these crimes.

However, there are certain circumstances where the state may elevate the offense to a felony, which carries stiffer penalties. For instance, if the inflicted damage reduces the property’s value by over $2,500, the charge may be upgraded to a felony. Similarly, if the destruction was purposefully wrought upon a public way, such as a highway or road, where it could potentially cause physical injury or additional property damage, it can also be deemed a felony.

Furthermore, the law takes a particularly dim view when the damage is aimed at disrupting public utilities, such as water, gas, or power services. Intentional threats or actual damage to the property of a judge or a member of their family, especially when the judge is acting in their official capacity, or in retaliation for their official actions, is also considered a felony.

Can I Be Charged With Criminal Damage To My Own Property in Wisconsin?

Yes. Wisconsin law typically requires the damaged property to belong to another person for charges to apply. However, in instances where the property is jointly owned, one party could potentially face charges if they damage the property without the consent of the other owner(s).

What Are Potential Defenses to a Criminal Damage to Property Charge?

In terms of defenses, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Each case is unique and requires a tailored approach. One common defense is to challenge the intent. Since criminal property damage necessitates proving that the defendant intentionally caused the harm, demonstrating a lack of intent can be a solid defense. For instance, if the damage occurred due to an accident, this could be used to challenge the prosecution’s case.

Another common defense is consent. If the property owner gave permission for the actions that led to the damage, this could provide a viable defense. Similarly, disputing the value of the damage could potentially reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Schedule A Consultation with Experienced Criminal Property Damage Attorney Glenn Avena.

Understanding criminal property damage in Wisconsin can be complex, but as an experienced property damage attorney, I can help clarify the intricacies of this area of law. Whether you are seeking to understand potential penalties or exploring viable defenses, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are upheld every step of the way.

I understand that legal representation can often seem financially intimidating. I offer affordable rates and fixed fees, providing transparent and predictable costs for clients. I also accept credit card payments.

If you or a loved one are facing charges for criminal property damage, please call my office and learn how I can help.

[1] Wis. Stat. Ann. Section 943.01