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Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyers Explain How to Beat Vandalism and Graffiti Charges

Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyers Explain How to Beat Vandalism and Graffiti Charges

Getting arrested for vandalism or graffiti can be scary. Many people charged with these crimes are young people who made a dumb mistake. Even if you believe you’re innocent, proving it can be hard without an experienced lawyer on your side.

Fortunately, Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys have lots of experience beating these charges. With the right legal strategy, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

What Constitutes Vandalism or Graffiti in Florida?

Under Florida statute 806.13, vandalism occurs when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages someone else’s real or personal property. Graffiti is considered a type of vandalism in Florida.

Common examples include:

  • Spray painting or tagging buildings, signs, vehicles, etc.
  • Keying a car
  • Smashing windows
  • Slashing tires

Vandalism can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the damage amount and other factors. Graffiti over $200 is a third-degree felony. Graffiti over $1,000 is a second-degree felony.

Common Defenses Against Vandalism and Graffiti Charges

Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers use various strategies to get vandalism and graffiti charges dismissed or reduced. Some potential defenses include:

You Didn’t Do It

If you weren’t the person who committed the vandalism, you can’t be convicted. Your lawyer may argue misidentification if the evidence against you is weak. For example, if a witness identification is shaky or security footage is blurry.

Lack of Criminal Intent

To prove vandalism, the prosecution must show you “willfully and maliciously” damaged property. Your attorney can argue you didn’t intentionally commit a crime. For example, by saying you accidentally damaged something or had permission to paint on a wall.

Free Speech

Graffiti containing political messages or artwork may be protected free speech under the First Amendment. Your lawyer can make a constitutional argument against charges if your graffiti was artistic or political in nature.


This defense claims police induced you to commit a crime you wouldn’t otherwise have committed. For example, if an undercover cop pressured you into doing graffiti you were reluctant to do.

What to Do if You’re Charged with Vandalism or Graffiti

Here are some tips if you find yourself facing vandalism or graffiti accusations in Fort Lauderdale:

  1. Remain silent and avoid answering police questions if you’re arrested. Anything you say can be used against you.
  2. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can start building your defense right away.
  3. Your lawyer may negotiate with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed pre-trial.
  4. Don’t discuss your case on social media where posts could damage your defense.
  5. Start gathering exonerating evidence like alibis, receipts, or character references.
  6. Consider enrolling in a diversion program if you’re a first-time offender.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Vandalism or Graffiti Charges

The lawyer you choose could make or break your case. Look for an attorney with specific experience defending vandalism and graffiti charges in Fort Lauderdale. Key signs of a great lawyer include:

  • Strong record getting vandalism and graffiti charges dismissed pre-trial.
  • Thorough understanding of Florida vandalism and graffiti laws.
  • Experience negotiating with local prosecutors.
  • Skill at building compelling defense arguments.
  • Resources to conduct a full investigation of your case.
  • Good reputation with judges and prosecutors.

Don’t leave your future to chance. The right lawyer can poke holes in the prosecution’s case and show reasonable doubt. With an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you can avoid a conviction and put the mistake behind you.

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