How Much Trouble You Can Get For Destruction of Property In Utah

Destruction of Property in Utah

Let’s say you are are in the middle of a heated conflict. Your coworker is making you mad and vice versa. You are at a point where you want to hurt him, but you want to do it in a way that won’t cause physical pain. You justify in your mind that because you won’t assault him, it’s okay.

So one night, you break into his home and destroy his beautiful flat screen TV. It’s a nice setup, but you think it will be okay. You know that he makes a lot more than you, and he’ll be able to afford a new one.

This is a bad idea. Not only would you likely get fired over this kind of thing, you would have committed a couple very serious crimes including destruction of property, which one of the 10 most common crimes in Utah

Being such a serious crime, it comes with some serious consequences.

Degrees of Charges

In Utah, the seriousness of destruction of property depends on the monetary amount of damage you cause.

In the scenario where you destroyed a television, the amount of trouble you would get in completely depends on how much the TV costs. Higher-end TV’s can get up to about $2,200. So you might be facing a third degree felony. 

On top of that, because you entered the property illegally with the intention of committing a felony, you would likely be facing a burglary charge. That’s another third-degree felony that would be stacked on top of the other one.

So even though your coworker could afford it, you would still be going to prison, and you might even pay a fine of more than the TV was worth.

What If You Damage A Computer?

Computers are a unique scenario. Utah law actually has a different way of determining the value when it comes to computers. Here’s what it says:

“In determining the value of damages under this section…the value of any item, computer, computer network, computer property, computer services, software, or data includes the measurable value of the loss of use of the items and the measurable cost to replace or restore the items.”

What This Means

Here’s another scenario to demonstrate that part of the law. You are a fan of a popular book series, and you’re angry at the author for not releasing the next book fast enough.

One day, he’s in Salt Lake City, and you decide to take matters into your own hands. You break into his hotel room and smash his computer with a hammer. It’s now completely inoperable. This particular author is notoriously behind the times when it comes to technology, and that was the only place the next book in the series was saved. He had never backed it up anywhere else.

The damage you did goes beyond the computer. The author was going to make millions of dollars off of that book.

In this scenario, the computer itself may have had a retail value of less than $500, but you would still face prison time with a second degree felony. On top of that, you’d also be facing a burglary charge.

What If You Damage Your Own Property?

On the surface, the answer to this question seems like a no brainer. Of course you wouldn’t get in trouble for destroying your own property. You can do whatever you want with it. However, there is one scenario that can land yourself behind bars for it.

Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer, and you own a high-end camera. It’s so expensive that you went out of your way to insure it. One day, you get hired full-time at a company that has equipment of its own. The camera is now sitting in your closet, collecting dust. It’s no longer making you any money.

So you throw it down on the ground. You think it’s the perfect plan. It frees up some space, and you collect on the insurance money. While you go to great lengths to make it look like an accident, you still get caught.

This type of thing could land you in a world of hurt. The Utah law about property damage explicitly lists destroying your own property for the purposes of defrauding insurers as a third-degree felony. If the damage is more than $5,000, it’s bumped up to a second-degree felony.

On top of that, you would likely be charged with insurance fraud, another possible felony. So in a worse-case scenario, you could be facing prison time with two felonies stacked against you.

What To Do If You’re Accused of Destruction of Property?

If you are arrested for destruction of property, you’ll want to hire a good lawyer. You need someone in your corner who is knowledgeable about the law and who has your best interests at heart. They will let you know what your best options are, and they’ll work hard to make sure you get the best outcome possible.

The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have over two decades of experience behind them. They would love to help you out. Call (801) 532-5297 for a free consultation.

Sources

https://www.brownbradshaw.com/posts/four-different-types-of-assault-in-uta

https://www.brownbradshaw.com/posts/four-different-types-of-assault-in-utah

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title76/Chapter6/76-6-S106.1.html?v=C76-6-S106.1_2023050320230503

https://www.utcourts.gov/en/self-help/case-categories/criminal-justice/penalties.html

https://www.brownbradshaw.com/posts/what-is-classified-as-burglary-in-utah 

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title76/Chapter6/76-6-S521.html

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