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Tennessee Vandalism Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Sometimes anger or frustration can lead you to do unexpected things like keying a car or slashing someone's tires. When a person intentionally destroys or damages another person's property in a way that diminishes the property's value, it's usually considered an act of vandalism.

Vandalism is an offense that may not be as severe as other property crimes. It's typically a misdemeanor offense, but if serious damage is involved, depending on the circumstances and actual value of the damage committed, vandalism can be charged as a felony in some states, including Tennessee.

Definition of "Damage" in Tennessee

Because a vandalism charge in Tennessee is based on damaging or destroying another's property, it's important to understand what "damage" refers to. Damage includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Destroying, polluting, or contaminating property;
  • Tampering with property or causing financial loss or substantial inconvenience to the owner or a third party;
  • Intentionally, spilling, pouring, or otherwise adding chemicals or other toxins to or on merchandise with the intent to: render the merchandise unsellable or alter it from its original form or destroy or decrease the value of the merchandise.

A Synopsis of Tennessee Vandalism Laws

While it's important to understand every detail of a statute, it doesn't hurt to get additional information from a no-nonsense guide to the law, written in common terms and everyday language. The chart below provides a brief synopsis of Tennessee's vandalism laws.

Statutes

  • Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-14-408

 

Elements of the Crime

 

Vandalism in Tennessee occurs when an individual intentionally:

  • Causes damage or the destruction of any real or personal property of another without the owner's consent;
  • Helps, or attempts to help another to commit vandalism of a retail merchant, while acting with the intent to promote or assist the vandalism of a retail merchant, or to benefit from the proceeds/results of the vandalism;
  • Damages merchandise offered for retail sale by a retail merchant; or
  • Facilitates the commission of vandalism of a retail merchant or acts as an accessory after the fact to vandalism of a retail merchant.

Possible Penalties

The actual penalties will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. However, vandalism penalties generally depend on the amount of property damage.

Less than $500: Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year, $2,5000 in fines.

$500-$1,000: Class E felony, punishable by 1-6 years in prison, $3,000 in fines.

$1,000-$10,000: Class D felony, punishable by 2-12 years in prison, $5,000 in fines.

$10,000-$60,000: Class C felony, punishable by 3-15 years in prison, $10,000 in fines.

More than $60,000: Class B felony, punishable by 8- 30 years in prison, $25,000 in fines.

Related Offenses

Tennessee Code Annotated:

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.

Tennessee Vandalism Laws: Related Resources

Contact a Tennessee Attorney about Vandalism Charges

When you're charged under Tennessee's vandalism laws, you'll need legal help to resolve your case in the best way possible. Use FindLaw's attorney directory to contact a Tennessee criminal defense attorney to talk about your vandalism charges today.

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