Can You Be Charged With Vandalism Without Proof? (Do This to Check)

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Criminal Records | October 24, 2022

Man scratching his head while looking at a police man delivering charges against him also sees a house with a broken window in the background and wonders can you be charged with vandalism without proof?

Can you be charged with vandalism without proof? In the days of electronic monitoring, this question might seem odd, but knowing whether or not someone has enough proof to charge you with vandalism can be tricky.

Individuals in this situation should perform a background check on themselves to check for charges against you online.

In most states there must be sufficient evidence that the person defaced the property, circumstantial evidence is rarely enough in these cases.

Moreover, there also must be proof that the individual intentionally and knowingly defaced the property, damaging property on accident is not a reason to be charged with vandalism. This is why knowing how to find out if criminal charges were filed for vandalism can help you defend against them.

So, if charges of vandalism show up on a background check, it generally means there was enough evidence to prove something.

Can Someone Press Charges Without Proof for Vandalism? (Can You Be Charged With Vandalism Without Proof?)

Can you be charged with vandalism without proof? It is possible for charges to be pressed without proof, although it is highly unlikely.

If someone accuses someone of committing a crime that they reasonably could have done, such as someone in the immediate vicinity of the crime, this individual can be arrested for the crime. Knowing how to look up charges on someone can help.

Screenshot of Cornell Law School website page for Legal Information institute with yellow arrow pointing to definition of probable cause.

The legal description of probable cause is distinct, and applies in vandalism cases.

Since the individual was nearby where the crime was committed and perhaps other evidence points to this individual being a suspect, then a law enforcement officer can make an arrest due to probable cause.1 An example of this would be a law enforcement officer arresting someone with a can of spray paint that was the same color of paint that was used to vandalize city property nearby.2

However since this evidence is circumstantial, it is legal to carry a can of spray paint, then the officer is only able to arrest the individual due to probable cause. In order to charge the individual with a crime, it must be beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual committed the crime.3 Without an official charge against the individual, police will need to release them within 72 hours.

Screenshot of Cornell Law School website page for Legal Information institute with yellow arrow pointing to definition of beyond a reasonable doubt.

The legal burden of proof is decided in court, but police need to have sufficient evidence to file charges.

This means that when it comes to the question of “Can you be charged with vandalism without proof?” The answer is no, however it is possible to be arrested for suspicion of vandalism with minimal evidence.

How To Prove Vandalism in Court

Proving vandalism in court is often difficult. However, if there is enough evidence to charge someone with vandalism or criminal mischief it is unlikely that the case will ever see a courtroom in the first place.

Generally speaking, overwhelming evidence that someone committed an act of vandalism is required to even charge the individual. In most cases this evidence will be a law enforcement officer witnessing the crime first-hand, or something like a security camera that shows the individual committing the crime. If this is the case, there is little reason for an attorney to recommend the individual plead not guilty and spend time and money going through court proceedings.

It will usually make far more sense for the individual to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor in return for a reduced sentence or something similar.

In short, if there is enough evidence to file charges for vandalism, there will likely be enough evidence to convict the individual of these charges.

How To Prove Someone Vandalized Your Car

Proving someone vandalized your car is extremely difficult at best and in many cases is essentially impossible. Since vandalism crimes are fairly low on the priority list of law enforcement, it will often fall on the victim to prove that their car was vandalized and who did it.

Screenshot of Howard County website page for police reports with yellow arrow pointing to types of incidents that can be reported online including vandalism.

Even proving that someone intentionally vandalized your car is difficult as individuals could have run over something that gave them a flat tire, or rubbed against something that could leave a mark on their car. Beyond this, proving a specific individual did this is almost impossible without a confession or video evidence of the crime taking place.

As always, if the individual does have evidence that someone vandalized their car, they should file a police report and possibly contact an attorney in order to explore their options.

Someone Vandalized My Car: What Do I Do?

When someone vandalizes your car or any personal property. The first thing individuals should do is document the damage before filing a police report about the issue.

Although law enforcement is unlikely to thoroughly investigate something like vandalism, they may be able to connect it to similar crimes and investigate if there is a pattern of vandalism in the area.

What Happens When You File a Police Report for Vandalism?

Unfortunately, there is usually little that can be done from a law enforcement perspective when it comes to vandalism. Usually, a law enforcement officer will take down the basic facts, such as when the crime would have occurred, the kind of damage that was done, and other information of that nature.

Screenshot of Fort Worth Police Department website page for reports with yellow arrow pointing to how to file a police report in Fort Worth.

To file a police report, users need to visit the station or go online.

This is mainly done in case there is a pattern of vandalism, so it can be more thoroughly investigated. However, a single vandalism case is unlikely to warrant an investigation.

How To Prove Someone Keyed Your Car

Proving someone keyed your car is almost impossible without video evidence of the crime being committed. Many individuals wondering “Can you be charged with vandalism without proof?” may be doing so because they heavily suspect someone.

However, without video or photographic evidence, it will be extremely difficult to prove.

Can Vandalism Charges Be Dropped?

Any charges can be dropped at any time if there is sufficient reason for the charges to be dropped. This can be done if there is insufficient evidence, or if there was a procedural issue with the arrest or investigation, such as an illegal search.

How To Beat a Vandalism Charge

The best way to beat a vandalism charge is to contact an attorney as soon as the charges have been filed. An attorney will be able to examine all the available information and come up with the best possible plan to minimize the punishment if there is any at all.

As mentioned, prosecuting an individual for vandalism is extremely difficult without evidence. However, if there is evidence, such as photo or video evidence, a plea deal will likely be the best option available.

Do Police Investigate Vandalism and Vandalism Charges?

Police will investigate vandalism if there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation. As opposed to something like a homicide investigation, there are usually few leads that police can investigate and in many cases, it will simply not be worth their time. However, if there is sufficient evidence then the crime will certainly be investigated.

Punishment for Vandalism for a Minor (Can You Be Charged With Vandalism Without Proof?)

The punishment for vandalism will vary by state. However, when it comes to being charged with vandalism as a minor the sentencing is usually lower than it would be for an adult offender.

Use the table below to learn more about vandalism and criminal mischief charges in each state.

 

Vandalism Charges by StateVandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in AlabamaAlabama – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in AlaskaAlaska – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in ArizonaArizona – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in ArkansasArkansas – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in CaliforniaCalifornia – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in ColoradoColorado – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in ConnecticutConnecticut – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in DelawareDelaware – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in FloridaFlorida – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in GeorgiaGeorgia – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in HawaiiHawaii – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in IdahoIdaho – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in IllinoisIllinois – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in IndianaIndiana – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in IowaIowa – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in KansasKansas – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in KentuckyKentucky – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in LouisianaLouisiana – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MaineMaine – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MarylandMaryland – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MassachusettsMassachusetts – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MichiganMichigan – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MinnesotaMinnesota – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MississippiMississippi – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MissouriMissouri – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in MontanaMontana – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in NebraskaNebraska – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in NevadaNevada – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in New HampshireNew Hampshire – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in New JerseyNew Jersey – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in New MexicoNew Mexico – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in New YorkNew York – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in North CarolinaNorth Carolina – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in North DakotaNorth Dakota – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in OhioOhio – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in OklahomaOklahoma – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in OregonOregon – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in PennsylvaniaPennsylvania – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in Rhode IslandRhode Island – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in South CarolinaSouth Carolina – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in South DakotaSouth Dakota – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in TennesseeTennessee – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in TexasTexas – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in UtahUtah – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in VermontVermont – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in VirginiaVirginia – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in WashingtonWashington – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in West VirginiaWest Virginia – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in WisconsinWisconsin – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing
Vandalism Charges in WyomingWyoming – Vandalism/ Criminal Mischief Maximum Sentencing

How To Press Charges for Vandalism

In order for an individual to press charges for vandalism, they will need to have sufficient evidence that the person they accused committed the crime, and did so intentionally.

With a crime like vandalism, this evidence will need to be fairly significant such as a video of the crime being committed.

What Happens When You File a Police Report on Someone?

In most cases, very little will happen when an individual files a police report on someone else. Generally, law enforcement will speak with the individual that wishes to file the report and take down their statements.

In most cases, after understanding and confirming as many of the facts of the case as possible, law enforcement will speak with the individual that the report was filed against. This is done to get both sides of the story and to confirm as much information as possible.

How To Press Charges on Someone for Theft

The decision to press charges for theft will generally fall to the prosecutor. The only thing that an individual can do is to provide law enforcement with a statement and as much evidence as possible. The more evidence there is the more likely that charges will be filed against the individual.

How Long Do You Have To File a Police Report for Property Damage?

Most minor crimes will have a statute of limitations of around 1 year. This means that the individual will have one year to file a police report about any property damage in order for the police to investigate and charge the individual with the crime.

Can Someone Press Charges for Someone Else?

In most situations pressing charges on someone else’s behalf is not possible. In most cases, only the prosecutor will have the power to press charges against someone.

In states that allow for individuals to press charges, only victims can press charges. However, victim is a loose term and someone that witnessed a crime can argue that they were a victim due to the traumatic experience of being a witness.

How To Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date

When someone needs to learn how to get charges dropped before court date appearances, they should understand that every case is different. Getting charges dropped before a court date will depend on circumstances outside the individual’s control in most cases. The ability to get charges dropped will depend on something like insufficient evidence or an issue with the arrest or investigation being illegal. Regardless, a lawyer will also be necessary in most cases.

For example, individuals wondering “can you be charged with vandalism without proof?” may have been charged with vandalism but there may be little proof that they committed the crime. In this situation, a lawyer may be able to argue the charges should be dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Can Charges Be Dropped After Arraignment?

Can charges be dropped at an arraignment hearing? Can charges be dropped after indictment? Yes. Charges can be dropped at any time during criminal proceedings.

Although most of the common reasons for a charge being dropped will be present early in the process, it is possible to get charges dropped before, during, or after the arraignment hearing.

How To Look Up Charges on Someone

The best way to learn how to look up charges on someone is to perform a background check on them. This can be done using the search at the top of this page to perform a free public records search using the individual’s basic information such as their name.

Individuals can also use an online background check service to perform a background check on the individual for a small fee.

Getting charged with a crime you didn’t commit can be scary. Luckily, when it comes to, ‘can you be charged with vandalism without proof,’ the answer is usually no, so individuals wrongfully accused can rest easy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Be Charged With Vandalism Without Proof

Can I Learn How To Press Charges on Someone for Vandalism?

In most states only the prosecutor will be able to press vandalism charges. The only thing individuals can do is report the crime and provide enough evidence to law enforcement that they are able to file charges.

What Happens When Someone Files a Police Report Against You for Assault?

When someone’s reports an assault to a law enforcement, a law enforcement officer will likely take statements from both individuals on the incident. If there is sufficient evidence that points to an assault, the individual that commited the crime will be arrested and charged.

Can Charged Be Dropped After Indictment?

Charges can be dropped at any time during criminal proceedings if there is sufficient reason to warrant them being dropped.

Can I Learn How To Press Charges Against Someone?

Most states do not allow private citizens to file charges against an individual, so you can’t learn how to press charges against someone. The best thing to do is to provide law enforcement with enough evidence to make it possible to file charges.

Where Do I Learn How To Check for Charges Against Me?

Individuals can check for charges against them by performing a background check on themselves or by requesting records through the courthouse.

Where Do I Learn How To Find Out if Criminal Charges Are Filed?

Individuals who have criminal charges filed against them will receive a notice of the charges by mail or in person. However, if they are still unsure, individuals can perform a background check on themselves.

What Happens When You File a Police Report for Theft?

When filing a police report for theft, law enforcement will take the individual’s statement on what was stolen and determine the relative value of what was taken. Usually an investigation will only take place if the value was significant and there is sufficient evidence.


References

1Cornell Law School. (2022). Probable Cause. Cornell Law School. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/probable_cause>

2U.S Department Of Justice. (2020, January 17). Destruction of Government Property. Department of Justice Archives. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from <https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1666-destruction-government-property-18-usc-1361.>

3Cornell Law School. (2022). Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Cornell Law School. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from <https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/beyond_a_reasonable_doubt.>

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