Wanton Destruction of Property

Extreme Negligence

What Qualifies as 'Wanton Destruction'?

Wanton Destruction of Property can be a very serious crime in Massachusetts. The offense is more than just merely breaking or damaging another's property. It must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with such reckless abandon that they did not care of the likely, damaging outcome.

Wanton Destruction of Property is proven in two or three elements:

  1. That the defendant injured or destroyed the personal property of another;
  2. That the defendant did so with wantonly; also,
  3. If the amount of damage inflicted to the property was more than $250 this is a felony.

A defendant's conduct would be “wanton” if the defendant intended the conduct but not the harmful consequences, and was reckless or indifferent to the substantial damage that such conduct would probably cause.

Imagine kids standing on an overpass and casually throwing rocks over the side into traffic. The kids may not intend to cause any damage to a particular car, but their actions are so reckless, with a strong likelihood that a car is damaged, that the kids actions are wanton.

Also, a jury or judge must first determine guilt for the first three elements before determining the cost of the damage done.

For destruction of property that does not require recklessness, see Malicious Destruction of Property.


Punishments for Wanton Destruction of Property

Felony Wanton Destruction of Property shall be punished by a fine of $1,500, or three times the value of the property so destroyed or injured, whichever is greater. Also, imprisonment for up to 2.5 years.

If the value of the property so destroyed or injured is less than $250, the punishment shall be  a fine of three times the value of the damage to property or by imprisonment for up to 2.5 months.


Defenses to Wanton Destruction of Property

Wanton Destruction of Property is a general intent crime. This means that the prosecutor does not need to prove that you intended to damage any property, only that you were reckless and disregarded probable substantial harm. If the resulting damage was too remote a possibility for a reasonable person to anticipate, of if the likely harm was not substantial, that is a defense to Wanton destruction of property.

Further, identity may be an issue in many wanton destruction cases - did the police get the right person? Is there a confusion of identity? Raising doubts about the identity of the defendant can be a strong trial tactic and can even result in the dismissal of your case.

The Attorneys of Equitas Law, LLP are seasoned litigators who will fight for your rights to the end. If you are facing a Wanton Destruction of Property charge, call us today for a free case evaluation. Call or text (617) 723-4163 now.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The only reason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first. It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

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