Vandalism: Moving Beyond a Prank
Oklahoma law addresses vandalism as malicious mischief. That does not mean all maliciously mischievous acts are vandalism. Oklahoma’s malicious mischief laws primarily address property damage.
Although young people often engage in pranks, there can be a legal difference between a prank and acts that are done maliciously. Malice takes a prank and moves it toward vandalism.
Of course, not all malicious pranks are vandalism. A prank might be in poor taste or even be malicious but that is not what makes a prank illegal. A malicious mischief conviction requires evidence that a person committed specific acts in violation of Oklahoma malicious mischief law.
A malicious prank might amount to bullying, or even comprise unlawful harassment but not include the elements of malicious mischief. Yet those malicious pranks might not be illegal vandalism under Oklahoma law. Other acts a person might think are harmless and done in good fun might be described as criminal mischief.
To find Oklahoma vandalism laws we look in a chapter of Oklahoma’s criminal code titled “Malicious Mischief.” This article describes a few of the more commonly charged types of vandalism in Oklahoma.
Maliciously Defacing Property
In Oklahoma, it is against the law to maliciously injure, deface or destroy another person’s real or personal property. It is considered a misdemeanor if the amount of damage is valued at less than $1000, and a felony if the damage is valued at $1000 or more.
Malicious damage to property is also a felony regardless of the amount of damage if you have 2 or more prior convictions for the malicious defacing of property.
Oklahoma law also allows a defendant to be open to a civil lawsuit for the damage done. If you engage in the intentional defacing or destroying of property you could face a sentence of three times the amount of damage done, in addition to criminal charges and punishments. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1760.
Destroying Railroad or Railroad Equipment
If you destroy any part of a railroad or its equipment, whether done maliciously or negligently, you could be convicted of a felony punishable by either up to 4 years in prison or at least 6 months in county jail. This includes removing or destroying any part of the railroad track, buildings or other equipment. It also includes placing any sort of obstruction on the tracks or any other part of the railroad where railroad cars travel. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1751.
Vandalizing Highways and Bridges
Likewise, it is against the law in Oklahoma to maliciously dig up, remove, break or injure any part of a public highway or bridge. These public works are meant to be safe and their destruction can cause significant injury or death. Therefore, Oklahoma treats these crimes as felonies. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1753.
Damaging Fruit and Other Trees and Shrubs
Although we may not think of it as destroying property, picking another’s fruit is the destruction of property. So is an injury such as bruising, breaking, removing, or cutting down any part of another’s tree, shrub, vine or hedge. It is a crime punishable but a fine from $10 to $100 or by up to 30 days in the county jail. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1773.
In Oklahoma, it is against the law to maliciously remove or deface any landmarks. This is true is the landmark is made out of stone, wood, trees, or any other material which were built to mark boundaries or any tract of land. Likewise, it is against the law to cut down or remove any tree which has marks on it for this purpose. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1774.
Destroying Art, Trees, Ornamental Improvements
The disfigurement or destruction of artwork or a monument within city limits is a misdemeanor. It is also a misdemeanor t0 damage any shade tree or ornamental plant if you are not the owner wherever matter where the property is situated, and whether it is private or public land. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1784.
Destroying Collectable Literature or Art
It is a felony in Oklahoma to tear up, disfigure, destroy, or break any book. map, chart, picture, statue or other work of literature or art in a public library, gallery, museum, collection, or other exhibition. Felonious vandalism is punishable by up to 3 years in prison or up to 1 year in the county jail. Okla. Stat. 21 § 1785.
Oklahoma law is strict about vandalism. Depending on the circumstances, vandalism can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Both charges are punishable by jail time. Even on a misdemeanor, you could serve up to a year in county jail. The act that you thought a prank might actually land you in jail.
If you are facing an Oklahoma vandalism charge, take it seriously. You can bet the prosecution will be taking it seriously. Retain a skilled Tulsa criminal attorney.
Free Consultation With a Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney
A vandalism charge is no laughing matter. Get the help you need today. Call us at the Wirth Law Office. We pride ourselves on providing you with the best possible legal representation at reasonable prices. Your initial consultation is free. Call a criminal defense attorney in Tulsa at the Wirth Law Office: (918) 879-1681. You may also submit the question form at the top right of this page.