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North Carolina Criminal Law 14-127: Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property is defined under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-72.2 as the Defendant intentionally damaging or injuring real property that belongs to another person.

The key difference between injury to real property and injury to personal property is the type of property that is damaged. Real property is defined as land or anything fixated to the land such as fences, buildings, gates, etc. Personal property is anything not considered to be real property such as cars, cell phones, furniture, etc.

In order to convict a Defendant of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property in North Carolina, the District Attorney must provide each and every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. For the crime of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property, the elements generally include:

  1. The Defendant damaged or destroyed real property
  2. The property belonged to another person
  3. The Defendant did so intentionally
    1. a. Specific Intent
    2. b. Without legal justification or excuse

The State bears the Burden of Proof presenting evidence showing the Defendant caused the damage on purpose and without permission.

2. Examples of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property

Defendant gets into an argument with her boyfriend in Cornelius, NC., who yells, “Get out of my house. You’ve never appreciated me and my Gnome friends. We never want to see you again.” As she leaves, the Defendant picks up concrete Gnome from the front yard flower garden and throws it through the sitting room picture-window, yelling, “This is for you and your Gnome friends. I won’t sleep until I end your sad little Gnome world. Watch your back weirdo.” After breaking the front window, the yard-Gnome also smashes through the victim boyfriend’s curio cabinet filled with rare ceramic Gnomes, destroying both the cabinet and several priceless collector Gnomes. The Defendant did not intend to damage the cabinet or the items inside it. The Defendant may be charged (arrested), cited, and/or issued a Criminal Summons for Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property, a Class I Misdemeanor offense. She may also be arrested for Communicating Threats and charged with Injury to Personal Property as the same act, throwing the concrete yard-Gnome, damaged both personal and real property inside the house. The Defendant had the specific intent to throw the concrete Gnome and is responsible for the ordinarily (reasonably anticipated) consequences of so doing. The Defendant knew or reasonably should have known throwing it through the window could cause further damage to personal property inside the residence. The Defendant is further served with a Chapter 50B DVPO – Domestic Violence Protective Order in Mecklenburg County for threatening her boyfriend with future harm.

Late one night, the Defendant climbs through a chain-link fence that is already partially open and trespasses onto a business property in Uptown Charlotte with some friends. The Defendant spray paints artwork on the side of the business building. A Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer patrolling the area stops to investigate. When the Charlotte police officer asks the defendant her name she says, “Call me Banksy NC.” The Defendant could be charged with several different misdemeanor offenses including Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property, Trespassing, and Resisting Officers (resist, delay or obstruct a public officer).

In the early morning hours of a Saturday night, the Defendant and some friends sneak into South Meck High School located on Park Road. The Defendant is a senior at Myers Park High School and is 18 years old. Her co-defendants are 17 years old. The Defendant intended to play a “senior prank” and steal a statue of the South Meck Sabres mascot. The statute is handcrafted from rare Mecklenburg County clay and valued at more than $10,000. While inside the school, the Defendant also clogs the bathroom sinks with paper towels and turns on faucets causing the water to flood over causing more than $100,000 damage. Defendant is arrested and is surprised to learn she has been charged as an adult with both felony and misdemeanor charges including felony Breaking or Entering Buildings (B and E), felony larceny, misdemeanor trespassing, injury to real property, and injury to personal property.

3. Related Offenses

Other related crimes offenses include:

  1. Injury to Personal Property
  2. Misdemeanor Breaking or Entering
  3. Felonious Breaking or Entering
  4. Defending Against False Allegations – Falsely Accused
  5. Resisting Arrest
  6. Domestic Violence in Charlotte NC
  7. NCGS § 14-217 - Injury to Real Property
4. Defenses to Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property

Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property A Defendant can potentially defend their charge of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property with the following defenses: mistake of fact, lack of intent, if the Defendant is the rightful owner of the property, or consent/permission by the owner.

5. Penalties/Punishment

Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-127. The maximum punishment is up to 120 days in jail.

The Court can order other terms and punishment conditions, for example:

  1. Probationary Term (supervised or unsupervised)
  2. Restitution for property damage or replacement
  3. Community Service Hours
  4. Costs of Court, Community Service Fees, Supervision Fees, Fines
6. Criminal Defense for Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property

If you are facing criminal charges such as Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property, it is important to consult with well-trained and experienced legal counsel.

Powers Law Firm assists people facing criminal charges (in District and Superior Court) in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. We offer a free consultation for criminal charges in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Our complimentary consultations are completely confidential.

CALL NOW: 704-342-4357

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