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Contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your criminal damage to property case.

Criminal damage to property is a crime that can occur on its own or alongside other charges.  For example, frequently criminal damage to property charges accompany domestic violence offenses when any property damage occurs during the incident.  It can also occur if the defendant damages property while committing crimes like armed robbery or burglary.  No matter how it occurs, the criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. have defended hundreds of criminal damage cases.

Meyer Van Severen is a criminal defense firm based in Milwaukee, WI.  Our peers, clients, and courts recognize us throughout Wisconsin as one of the best criminal defense law firms in the state.  We have decades of experience under out belt, and we can help anyone facing criminal charges in Wisconsin.  Finally, contact us and let’s set up a free consultation and start fighting your case.


What is criminal damage to property?

Criminal damage to property certainly sounds straightforward.  Someone damaged property in a criminal manner, right?  But it’s a little more complicated than that.  The law builds in a few important terms that you must understand when analyzing a criminal damage case.

Section 943.01 of the Wisconsin Statutes defines criminal damage to property:

(1) Whoever intentionally causes damage to any physical property of another without the person’s consent is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Importantly, this crime becomes a Class I felony in the following circumstances:

(b) Any person violating sub. (1) under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class I felony:

1. The property damaged is a plant, material taken, extracted, or harvested from a plant, or a seed or other plant material that is being used or that will be used to grow or develop a plant.
2. The plant referred to in subd. 1. is or was being grown as feed for animals being used or to be used for commercial purposes, for other commercial purposes, or in conjunction with plant research and development.

(2g) Any person violating sub. (1) under all of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class I felony:

(a) The property damaged is a machine operated by the insertion of coins, currency, debit cards or credit cards.
(b) The person acted with the intent to commit a theft from the machine.
(c) The total property damaged in violation of sub. (1) is reduced in value by more than $500 but not more than $2,500. For purposes of this paragraph, property is reduced in value by the amount that it would cost to repair or replace it, whichever is less, plus other monetary losses associated with the damage.

What are the elements of the crime?

The government must prove all of the elements (or parts) of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt before they can convict you of a crime.  This offense is no exception.  Provided in Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1400, the elements of misdemeanor criminal damage to property:

  1. The defendant caused physical damage to the property; and
  2. The defendant intentionally caused the damage; and
  3. The property belonged to another person; and
  4. The defendant caused the damage without the consent of the owner; and
  5. The defendant knew the property belonged to another person and knew that the other person did not consent to the damage

“Damage” includes anything ranging from simply defacing property to complete destruction of that property.
“Intentionally” means the defendant has the mental purpose to damage the property, or knew that his conduct was practically certain to cause damage to the property.

Certainly this crime qualifies as a felony under certain circumstances.  To be sure, there are additional requirements to reach that level.


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When is criminal damage to property a felony?

Criminal damage to property is a Class I felony if any of the following occur:

  1. The defendant reduced the value of the property by at least $2,500.00; or
  2. The property involved was owned by a public utility/common carrier, and the damage is of the kind which is likely going to impair the services of the public utility/common carrier; or
  3. The property involved belongs to a petit/grand juror and the damage was caused by reason of a reaction to a verdict; or
  4. The damage occurs on state-owned land listed with the DNR’s registry of prominent features in the landscape; or
  5. The property damaged is a plant/plant material, being grown as feed for animals, or to be used for commercial purposes, or for plant research and development; or
  6. The property damaged is a vending machine, the person acted with intent to commit theft from the machine, and the property damage ranged between $500.00 and $2,500.00.

It’s important that your criminal damage to property defense attorney understands the law and its intricacies when defending you.  Our criminal defense attorneys have defended criminal damage cases at trial.  While every case is different, we can help you defend your case.

Bullet holes are criminal damage to property
Criminal damage to property is a misdemeanor and felony offense in Wisconsin. Shooting through a window certainly qualifies.

How do we win my case?

Often a criminal damage to property case involves testimony from a witness claiming that the defendant damaged property.  If that individual is lying we need to bring that out.  Proving it to the prosecutor could result in a dismissal of charges.  If not, we will need to prove the lie to a jury.

It’s also important to consider pre-trial motions in your case.  Sometimes police execute a search warrant during investigation.  Was the application for the warrant valid?  Were there other issues with it?  While this is certainly only one example of a pre-trial motion, we’ll evaluate your case from front to back and search for motions.

At our initial consultation we will discuss your case and all of the issues involved in your case.  During that initial meeting we will begin to figure out how to defend your case.


Meyer Van Severen, S.C. provides top criminal defense representation

Criminal damage to property is a serious crime.  This crime is an aggravated misdemeanor or a felony, both which carry serious penalties.  Meyer and Van Severen are criminal defense attorneys who provide criminal damage to property defense. Our defense attorneys have won criminal damage to property cases.  Contact our defense firm at (414) 270-0202 to discuss your case and see if a Milwaukee criminal attorney can help you.

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