If a person mars, defaces, or physically damages your property, then he or she may be charged with vandalism. It looks simple enough; a neighbor defaces your fence, and you can have him or her charged with vandalism. As usual, however, the authorities will not just take your word for it. There are three elements of vandalism you will have to prove.
First, you have to prove that there was actual physical damage to your fence. This is the easy part because the damage doesn't have to be extensive as long as it is visible. In fact, minor damages or defaces are the ones that are considered as acts of vandalism while serious damages may be labeled as destruction of property.
Therefore, if the neighbor places stickers on your fence, carves the posts, or plasters spray ink all over your fence, then you already have the threshold for physical damage.
Another thing you have to prove, and this isn't so easy, is that the neighbor intentionally damaged your fence. This is because accidental damages to property aren't considered as acts of vandalism.
Therefore, if your neighbor's lawnmower accidentally scratched your fence, then you can't charge him or her with vandalism. The same is true if his or her tree falls on your fence and breaks a few rails. He or she may be compelled to pay for the damages, but he or she will escape the criminal charge of vandalism. In short, you have to prove that your neighbor willfully damaged your fence.
Lastly, you also have to prove that your neighbor did not own the fence that he or she vandalized. He or she may have to answer to your gated community's rules and regulations, but not to the criminal charge of vandalism.
As you can see, it can get complicated if the ownership of the fence is in dispute. In that case, you will need to prove that the fence is yours before you can expect a vandalism charge against your neighbor.
As you can see, many legal disputes aren't always so black and white. This is why you always need a lawyer like Medeiros & Associates to defend your position or help you prove that what you are saying is true. In the case of vandalism, it is even more important because your neighbor may continue with his or her acts if he or she evades the vandalism charges successfully.
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