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Massachusetts Willful or Malicious Destruction of Property Lawyer

A willful or malicious destruction of property case can be a very serious matter. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony depending on the circumstances - mainly the value of the property that was destroyed. If you are charged with willful or malicious destruction of property in Massachusetts, it is important to hire an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer to help you with your case.

Massachusetts General Laws c. 266, § 127 punishes, "Whoever destroys or injures the personal property, dwelling house or building of another in any manner or by any means." 

What Does Willful and Malicious Mean? 

An act is willful if it is done intentionally and by design. This is different than an act which is done thoughtlessly or accidentally. You are acting willfully if you intend the conduct and its harmful consequences.

An act is done with malice if it is done out of cruelty, hostility or revenge. You must act not only deliberately, but out of cruelty, hostility or revenge toward another.

What Makes Willful or Malicious Destruction of Property a Misdemeanor or a Felony? 

If the value of the property destroyed is over $1,200, then it can be charged as a felony. 

If the value of the property destroyed is under $1,200, then it will likely be charged as a misdemeanor. 

Relevant Case Law: The value of the property destroyed or injured is a question for the jury and must be established beyond a reasonable doubt before it may be relied on to increase the range of punishment. Commonwealth v. Beale, 434 Mass. 1024, 1025 (2001); Commonwealth v. Lauzier, 53 Mass. App. Ct. 626, 633 n.10 (2002). Where the damage is repairable, the value of the property is to be measured by the pecuniary loss (usually the reasonable repair or replacement cost), and not by the fair market value of the whole property or of the damaged portion. Commonwealth v. Deberry, 441 Mass. 211, 221-22 (2004), rev'g 57 Mass. App. Ct. 93 (2003). 

You can read more about the felony threshold and changes the legislature made here on this blog post by Attorney Ellison. 

 

What are the Penalties for Willful or Malicious Destruction of Property? 

Willful or Malicious Destruction of Property Over $1,200 Penalties

up to 10 years in state prison

up to 2.5 years jail in the House of Correction

or

a fine of $3,000 or 3 times the value of the damage caused to the property so destroyed or injured, whichever is greater

Willful or Malicious Destruction of Property Under $1,200 Penalties

up to 2.5 years jail in the House of Correction

a fine of 3 times the value of the damage to property 

Depending on the circumstances, a conviction for willful or malicious destruction of property can potentially lead to incarceration, a criminal record, probation and/or hefty fines and fees. The stakes are high, and you need a high-quality Massachusetts willful or malicious destruction of property lawyer to help fight the charges. We will help create a unique defense and strategy given your circumstances to help fight your charges. Do not hesitate, contact Attorney David Ellison today at 401-230-5520. 

Advocating For You

When you hire Attorney David Ellison, not only are you getting a skilled, experienced, and aggressive lawyer in your corner, but you're getting a lawyer who understands the importance of empathy, honesty, and trustworthiness. Attorney Ellison is a lawyer who loves to advocate for you.

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