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Vandalism

Damaging, defacing, altering, spray-painting, or doing other acts of vandalism can unfortunately put you in an Iowa courtroom. Acts of vandalism under the Iowa Code are referred to as criminal mischief. The crime carries various penalties ranging from a minor misdemeanor to a serious high-class felony charge. No matter the circumstances, it’s important you resolve this issue as soon as possible with quality legal representation.

Having a skilled and experienced attorney on your side can make a world of a difference in your criminal trial. A seasoned defense lawyer can collect important evidence, file motions to suppress incriminating evidence, call on expert witnesses and guide you through the legal system. If you or someone you know has been charged with vandalism, then it’s imperative you seek trusted legal counsel for guidance today.

Defense Lawyer for Vandalism in West Des Moines, Iowa

In most vandalism cases, the crime is relatively harmless and non-violent. However, the state of Iowa still imposes harsh penalties on anyone accused of committing criminal mischief. With so much at stake, it’s advised you have legal representation ready to defend your rights. 

We suggest you get in contact with McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..  The criminal defense team at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. have years of practice effectively defending their clients from property crimes such as criminal mischief. They can use their knowledge, resources and network for your case. To get in touch with them call (515) 279-9700 for a free consultation.

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represents people throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area including Altoona, Ankeny, Waukee, West Des Moines and Perry.

Overview of Vandalism in Iowa 


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How is Criminal Mischief Defined Under Iowa Law?

It’s been seen in countless films. Young adults or teens going about the neighborhood doing small acts of vandalism such as spray-painting some graffiti on a wall or pelting a stranger’s car with eggs. However, in these films the protagonists tend to face little to no consequences. In reality, the statutory consequences for committing acts of vandalism are in fact very serious.

Vandalism is defined as criminal mischief under the Iowa Code Section 716.1. The statute states you’re guilty of criminal mischief if you damaged, defaced, altered or destroyed another’s property intentionally and without consent of the owner. When criminal mischief is committed on more than one item of property at approximately the same time period, then all the acts of mischief will be considered as one count of criminal mischief.


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Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Iowa

The penalties for criminal mischief are determined by the facts of the case such as the cost of the damage and if any injuries occurred during the crime. The Iowa Code separates these penalties into five different degrees that can range between a misdemeanor and a felony. 

Criminal mischief in the fifth degree is the lightest charge you can receive for committing vandalism. A conviction for a simple misdemeanor can result in the following penalties:

  • A fine between $65 and $625; and
  • Up to 30 days in jail

The charge can be enhanced to criminal mischief in the fourth degree if:

  • The cost of replacing or repairing the property exceeds $300, but not $750;
  • A monument was intentionally injured, disturbed, destroyed, or removed; or
  • A monument was intentionally injured, disturbed, destroyed or removed that was established by the national geodetic survey, Iowa geodetic survey or any county geographic information system for use in the determination of spatial location relative to the Iowa state plan coordinate system or precise elevation datum

A fourth-degree criminal mischief charge is a serious misdemeanor, which can result in: 

  • A fine between $315 and $1,875; and
  • Up to one year in jail

Certain factors can elevate a criminal mischief charge to the third-degree. These include: 

  • The cost to replace, repair or restore the property exceeds $750, but not $1,500;
  • The property is a will, commercial paper, deed or any civil or criminal process document or instrument that may have a legal effect;
  • A light, signal, obstruction, barricade or guard has been rendered less effective after being put in place to enclose a dangerous space or alert others of a possible dangerous situation; or
  • The property destroyed, removed, or altered was human remains at a burial site

Third-degree criminal mischief is an aggravated misdemeanor, which is punishable by: 

  • A fine between $625 and $6,2500; and
  • A jail sentence of up to two years

If the cost to repair or replace the property damaged exceeds $1,500, but not $10,000 then it’s a class D felony. The penalties for a class D felony include:

  • A fine between $750 and $7,500; and
  • A five-year prison sentence

The highest charge is criminal mischief in the first-degree. The factors that can enhance your criminal mischief charges to the first-degree include:

  • The cost to replace or repair the property is more than $10,000; or
  • The criminal mischief resulted in a substantial interruption or impairment of a service rendered by a public utility company

First-degree criminal mischief can result in a class C felony. The penalties for committing first-degree criminal mischief include:

  • A fine between $1,000 and $10,000; and
  • A prison term of up to 10 years

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Additional Resources

Property Crimes in Iowa – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about how the state of Iowa prosecutes property crimes. Access the site to learn the elements, penalties and other admissible defenses that can be used in trial.

Juvenile Division – Vandalism is a crime that is common among children and teens. Visit the official website for Polk County to learn more about their juvenile division. Access the site to find more information regarding court definitions, children in need of assistance, delinquency proceedings, and child welfare mediation. 


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Vandalism Defense Lawyer in West Des Moines, IA

If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief such as vandalism, it’s imperative you obtain trusted legal counsel as soon as possible. We suggest you contact an attorney who has experience with these types of cases like the lawyers at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

Our criminal defense attorneys have years of practice as well as extensive resources to assist with your case. We can sit with you and discuss your charges in further detail to uncover all your available legal options. Get in touch with us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up your first consultation free.

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represents people throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area including Perry, Miniburn, West Des Moines, Polk City, Altoona, Ankeny and Polk City.