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Vandalism is a misdemeanor crime in Rhode Island that involves the deliberate defacing or destruction of property. It can also include ignorant defacing of anything beautiful or treasured, such as a work of art, architecture or a valued building. The presence of malice in the willful destruction of property or ignorance in defacing something of value is inferred. Although vandalism is usually categorized as a misdemeanor, the consequences of a conviction can seriously impact your life. Fines, community service and even jail time are often assessed if you are found guilty.

Attorney Stephen Archambault knows that an arrest of any kind can be a stress-inducing event, particularly for those that have never had tangles with the law before. He and his team will work for you and with you to represent your interests and protect your rights. Our priority will be to try to secure a dismissal of the charge and expungement from your permanent record. When that is not possible, we will use a variety of strategies to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Types of Vandalism

In addition to the destruction of property, vandalism may be charged if the accused has obstructed the use of someone else’s property. For example, if the accused jumped into someone else’s car and refused to get out so the owner could drive the car, that could be construed as vandalism. No damage needs to occur in this case for the charge to be valid.

There are additional charges that may be associated with vandalism:


While some people see graffiti as art, painting a building is considered an act of vandalism under Rhode Island law. The state refers to this type of vandalism as “willfully, maliciously or mischievously writing upon, painting or otherwise defacing a building.” Penalties for this misdemeanor crime will vary based on whether it is a first or subsequent offense.

Injury to Public Property

The defacement or injury of public property, which might include cutting, painting or otherwise destroying a building, fence or other public property is also considered a misdemeanor crime under Rhode Island law. Injury to public property could include a jail term as well as fines. You may also be required to pay restitution for the damage that was done.

Injury to Public Statues and Monuments

While the most familiar monument under this category is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Providence, any city or state statue or monument could fall under the protection of this statute. Like injury to other types of public property, this charge could lead to heftier fines and even time in jail if you are found guilty by the court.

In addition to these various charges, there are also aggravating factors that could affect the penalties you face for your vandalism offense:

  • Destruction of windows or lamps
  • Defacing of bills or bank notes
  • Obstructing public access to water
  • Defacing a public line or marker

If the charge is categorized under Rhode Island’s domestic violence laws, a vandalism charge can also involve stiffer penalties. In some cases, it might even be heightened to a felony charge, if it is not the first offense or it involves other domestic violence allegations.

Penalties for Vandalism in Rhode Island

If you are charged with misdemeanor vandalism in the state, you could face any or all the following penalties:

  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Up to one year of imprisonment
  • Up to 100 hours of community service hours
  • Restitution for the damage caused

If it is a second offense, penalties could increase to 200 community service hours. In addition, if you are found guilty of vandalism, the charge will be on your permanent record for many years. This can affect your ability to secure some types of employment and may interfere with other aspects of your life.

Specific Intent or General Intent

The wording of the vandalism law in Rhode Island suggests it is a specific intent crime, which means the prosecution would have to prove malicious or willful intent for the accused to be guilty of the offense. However, history suggests the Rhode Island Supreme Court treats the charges as more of a general intent crime, eliminating the need for the prosecution to prove intent. While this eliminates some of the defense options in a vandalism case, we have other strategies at our disposal to help you counter your charges.

The vandalism law in Rhode Island features numerous variables that can make it a challenge to address your charges without proper legal representation. The team at Archambault Law understands all the complexities of the vandalism statute in the state and will offer you the best strategy for having your case dismissed or your charges reduced. To get a free evaluation of your case, contact our firm today at 401-300-0925.

Ever been charged for vandalism? Contact Archambault Law Offices for our help.Contact Us Now