In many jurisdictions, criminal damage to property is a property crime that typically involves some type of damage to someone else’s real estate. It is a crime when the perpetrator does not own the property that they are damaging and does not have the permission from the rightful owner. In Georgia, actions constituting criminal damage to property are divided into two degrees.

What Is Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree?

Criminal damage to property in the first degree can occur in two ways. First, a person commits criminal damage to property in the first degree when they, without authority, knowingly interfere with any property in a manner that puts human life in danger. A second way that a person can commit criminal damage to property in the first degree is if they use violence or force to intentionally interfere with the operation of a public system such as public transportation or a public water system. The punishment for first degree criminal damage to property is one to 10 years in prison.

What Is Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree?

In Georgia, criminal damage to property in the second degree also can happen in two ways. The first way that it can happen is when a person intentionally damages an individual’s property without their permission, with the damage exceeding $500. Also, a person can commit criminal damage to property in the second degree if they intentionally or recklessly use an explosive or fire to damage someone else’s property.

Are Arson and Criminal Damage to Property in the Second Degree the Same Crime in Georgia?

No. They are separate crimes, even though they can both involve causing damage to property with fire or explosives. Arson is the unlawful act of knowingly setting fire to or using explosives to cause damage to a structure or personal property valued over $25. Second degree criminal damage to property is limited to recklessly or intentionally damaging property. Also, criminal damage to property can involve damage to any kind of real property, including farmland or a forest.

What Is the Penalty for the Second Degree Property Damage Conviction?

According to Georgia law, criminal damage to property in the second degree is punishable by one to five years in prison.

Should I Hire a Criminal Lawyer?

You should immediately contact a Georgia lawyer regarding your property damage charge. Your defense lawyer will look at the facts of the case to determine all the defense options available to you.