Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Three Quick Facts About Malicious Destruction in Massachusetts

Two men in downtown Boston were recently caught and arrested for attempting to break into an ATM. The arrest occurred after Boston law enforcement received an ATM alarm call near Broad Street. On arrival, law enforcement began inspecting the ATM for damage. 

As law enforcement inspected the machine, they heard sounds behind it, so they shined flashlights through the ATM’s glass exterior and into the building’s vestibule. This revealed two men with crowbars who were attempting to break into the machine through its back. Consequently, the officers drew their guns, ordered the suspects to drop their tools, and commanded the suspects to get on the ground. 

After the two suspects complied, they were placed under arrest. The two men were later charged with breaking and entering as well as malicious destruction of property. Because malicious destruction of property can result in some serious penalties, the following reviews some of the important details you should understand about this offense in Massachusetts. Combined with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, these details can better prepare you for what lies ahead. 

What Constitutes Malicious Destruction?

Massachusetts defines malicious destruction as occurring whenever a person willfully either destroys or injures another person’s property. While vandalism is the most common type of malicious destruction, the offense can also include acts like setting someone else’s property on fire or breaking someone else’s window. As in the previous examples, this offense can also include destroying a bank’s ATMs.

There are Two Types of Malicious Destruction Charges

There are two types of malicious destruction charges in Massachusetts. These offenses are separated both based on the intent of the party involved as well as the amount of damages caused by the offense. If the offense involves greater than $250 in damages, a person can end up facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $3,000. If the offense is less than this amount, a person will end up facing a maximum of two and a half months in jail and approximately three times the cost of the damage in fines.

There are Several Available Defenses

Two defenses are commonly raised in response to malicious destruction charges. You will either establish that the items destroyed were actually less than $250 in value or that you did not have the required mental state at the time of the offense. 

To establish the requisite mental intent, you must establish that you did not consciously disregard someone else’s safety. You might also establish that you were not the person who actually destroyed the property or that you had permission to destroy the property from the property’s owner.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with malicious destruction of property, a skilled criminal defense attorney like Edward R. Molari will review your case and help you create a strong defense strategy. Contact attorney Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.