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Malicious destruction of property can lead to time in jail, fines

Respect for other people's belongings is a fundamental skill that's learned early in life. It is also something that is covered under Maryland law. It sets up specific penalties for vandalism, which is formally known as malicious destruction of property.

The penalties that you are facing for this charge depend on how much damage was done. All cases of malicious destruction of property are classified as misdemeanors. If the damage is up to $1,000, you are facing a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. If it is more than that, you're looking at a fine of up to $2,500 and up to three years in prison.

If more than one item is damaged, even if they are in different locations, the court can add the value of the damage together to come up with a single charge. On top of the other penalties that you're facing, you can also be ordered to do community service and pay restitution.

Even though you might think of malicious destruction of property as something that completely destroys property, such as smashing windows with a brick, it also covers less serious situations. Graffiti, for example, is covered under this law.

Some situations have special considerations. For example, if someone willfully interferes with a person's electrical, water or gas service, they can face up to six months in jail and fines. Throwing projectiles into vehicles can lead to a year in jail, as well as fines of up to $500.

Don't think that just because this is a misdemeanor that you should take the charge lightly. Instead, you should work on your defense because a conviction will still show up on your criminal history. This could impact job prospects and other aspects of your life.

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