Ohio Vandalism Laws

Property rights are important, and each state has enacted laws to protect such rights. While theft laws protect you from being deprived of your property, vandalism laws protect your property from being damaged. Ohio has several statutes addressing various types of vandalism. Ohio also addresses vandalism of a vehicle and railroad separately from vandalism on other types of property. While vehicular, railroad, and railroad grade crossing device vandalism are generally misdemeanors, certain circumstances elevate the crimes to a felony, such as:

  • Serious harm to property or a substantial risk of physical harm to a person (fourth degree felony);
  • Physical harm to another person (third degree felony); and
  • Serious physical harm to someone (second degree felony).

Ohio Vandalism Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of vandalism laws in Ohio.

Statute(s)

Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX. Crimes Procedure Sections:

  • 2909.05 (Vandalism)
  • 2909.09 (Vehicular Vandalism)
  • 2909.10 (Vandalism and Trespass Involving a Railroad)
  • 2909.101 (Railroad Grade Crossing Device Vandalism)
What's Prohibited?

Vandalism: Knowingly causing:

  • Serious harm to an occupied structure or its contents;
  • Harm to another's property when it's used for business and either (1) the value of the property or the amount of harm involved is $1,000 or more, or (2) the property is necessary to run the business;
  • Serious harm to property that's owned or leased by a governmental entity;
  • Serious harm to any structure used as a memorial for the dead (i.e. gravestone) or a cemetery; or
  • Harm to a place of burial by breaking and entering into a structure or enclosure used as a memorial for the dead.

Vehicular Vandalism: Knowingly dropping or throwing an object at or in the path of a vehicle on a highway or a boat on any waters in the state.

Vandalism and Trespass Involving a Railroad:

  • Knowingly dropping/throwing an object at or in the path of a train or on a railroad track;
  • Climbing on/in a train;
  • Disrupting the operation of a train; or
  • Knowingly entering or staying on railroad company property.

Railroad Grade Crossing Device Vandalism: Knowingly defacing or impairing the operation of a railroad grade crossing warning signal or other protective device (i.e. gate, bell, yield sign, etc.).

Charges

Violation of section 2909.05 is generally a fifth degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 (in addition to penalties for such a felony). But, it's a fourth degree felony if the value of the property or harm to the property is $7,500 or more and a third degree felony if it's $150,000 or more.

Violation of sections 2909.09, 2909.10, and 2909.101 is generally a first degree misdemeanor*; however, as discussed above, certain circumstances will elevate the violation to a felony.

*It's a fourth degree misdemeanor under section 2909.10 to knowingly enter or stay on railroad company property.

Penalties

Second degree felony: 2-8 years in prison and fines not exceeding $15,000.

Third degree felony: 9, 12, 18, 24, 30, or 36 months in prison and fines not exceeding $10,000.

Fourth degree felony: 6-18 months in prison and fines not exceeding $5,000.

Fifth degree felony: 6-12 months in prison and fines not exceeding $2,500.

First degree misdemeanor: up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Fourth degree misdemeanor: up to 30 days in jail and fines up to $250.

Related Offenses

Ohio Revised Code Title XXIX. Crimes Procedure Sections:

  • 2909.06 (Criminal Damaging or Endangering)
  • 2909.07 (Criminal Mischief)
  • 2909.08 (Endangering Aircraft/Airport Operations)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Vandalism Laws: Related Resources

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Get Legal Help with Your Vandalism Case in Ohio

Depending on the circumstances, violation of Ohio's vandalism laws can result in a felony conviction. If you've been charged with vandalism in Ohio, you may want to consult with a criminal defense attorney in Ohio to discuss your case and to help you mount your strongest defense.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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