The Crime

In Tennessee, a person may be convicted of the crime of Vandalism if the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person caused damage or destruction to the property of another person or the local, state, or federal government without the owner’s consent.  Under Tennessee law, “damage” includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Destruction of property; or
  2. Pollution or contamination of property; or
  3. Tampering with property that results in the property being reduced in value or causing a substantial inconvenience to another person.

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-14-408]

The Penalties

Tennessee law specifies that penalties for a Vandalism conviction depend upon the value of the property damaged and increase as the value of the property increases, according to following categories:

1. Property damage of less than $500 is a Class A Misdemeanor.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $2,500; and
    • Court costs.

2. Property damage of greater than $500 but less than $1,000 is a Class E Felony.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of 1 to 6 years in prison;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $3,000; and
    • Court costs.

3.    Property damage of greater than $1,000 but less than $10,000 is a Class D Felony.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of 2 to 12 years in prison;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $5,000; and
    • Court costs.

4.    Property damage of greater than $10,000 but less than $60,000 is a Class C Felony.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of 3 to 15 years in prison;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $10,000; and
    • Court costs.

5.    Property damage of greater than $60,000 but less than $120,000 is a Class B Felony.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of 8 to 30 years in prison;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $25,000; and
    • Court costs.

6.    Property damage of greater than $120,000 is a Class A Felony.  A conviction for Vandalism in Tennessee with property damage in this range will result in some or all of the following penalties:

    • A sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison;
    • A probationary period;
    • Restitution (Payment for damage to property);
    • A fine of up to $50,000; and
    • Court costs.

[Source: Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 39-14-408, 39-14-105]

Other Consequences of a Vandalism Conviction

In addition to the court-mandated penalties described above, a person convicted of Vandalism may also experience serious collateral (other) consequences. A Vandalism conviction may result in the loss of college scholarships or the ability to seek admission to a higher learning institution.  A conviction may also impact one’s ability to maintain or seek employment and may result in negative action to a professional license (e.g., nursing).

Except in rare circumstances a conviction for Vandalism will ALWAYS stay on a person’s public record (criminal history).  This means that current and future employers may access records of Tennessee criminal convictions.  For more information about Tennessee expungement law, you may wish to review the information contained on our sister website, http://www.eraseyourrecord.com/index.html.

Should I Hire A Lawyer?

As can be ascertained from the above information, a Vandalism conviction may result in jail time and, if convicted, the Vandalism charge will remain on your criminal history forever (except in rare circumstances).  As a result, a potential employer may uncover a record of a conviction for this offense through a request for an applicant’s criminal history.  An experienced Tennessee Criminal Defense Attorney provides the best opportunity to avoid a jail sentence or a conviction.

Why Hire a Lawyer Immediately?

It is important to act quickly in order to gather and preserve favorable evidence.  Certain witnesses need to be interviewed as soon as possible.  Key evidence (faces, dates, events, and conversations) fades from memory over time.  Also, video recordings and other evidence may be destroyed.  Therefore, it is critical to begin an investigation as soon as possible to ensure valuable evidence is not lost.  Success or failure in any criminal case may be determined in the decisions of the defendant and his or her Tennessee Criminal Attorney in only a few hours or days after an arrest.