In Georgia, causing damage to another person’s property is classified either as a first- or second-degree offense. It is an enhanced form of theft that is taken more seriously than trespassing and shoplifting. Learn more about the basic definition of property crimes and the criminal consequences below.
Types of property crimes
A property crime in the second degree is committed when an individual causes property damage that exceeds $500. A crime is committed when the damage is made to someone else’s property without his or her permission or by use of fire or explosives. The damage can include any type of natural property, such as fields or forests.
The legal consequences
Any person who is convicted of property damage in the second degree could receive an imprisonment sentence of one to five years. According to Georgia criminal law statutes, damage is defined as the destruction of property that creates a major depreciation in value.
To calculate the costs of damages, it’s necessary to determine the current value of the property. The property owner has to show proof of ownership through documented evidence of its value, such as a receipt, bill or photograph. Otherwise, the jury needs an alternative form of evidence to determine its value.
The importance of criminal defense
A person who is accused of second-degree property crimes might face a felony conviction and a prison sentence of one to five years under criminal law in Georgia. The defendant should show evidence that they didn’t commit an intentional infliction of property damage, without the owner’s permission, if they want to avoid these penalties in a court of law.