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South Carolina Code § 16-11-510: Malicious Injury to Personal Property

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Malicious Injury to Personal Property Under South Carolina Code § 16-11-510, Malicious Injury to Personal Property is where the defendant facing criminal charges allegedly acted with intent (intentionally) damages the personal possessions (property), goods, or chattel (common law term for personal items or property) that belong to another person.

This offense can be a felony or misdemeanor in South Carolina, depending on the amount of damage caused and/or value of personal property.

To prove the defendant committed crime of Malicious Injury to Personal Property, the State of SC carries the “burden of proof” to show, by admissible evidence that:

  1. Defendant purposefully (absence of mistake) and maliciously (evil mind “mens rea”)
  2. Damaged or destroyed (goods, “chattel”) personal property
  3. Belonging to another person

“Personal Property” is best described as movable property, as opposed to real property which describes land, buildings, houses, and/or real estate. Lawyers in South Carolina may refer to movable, personal property as “fungible.”

For example, personal property includes items such as a car, furniture, electronics, jewelry, animals, etc. This is in contrast to real property which includes fixed property such as a home or a fence.

2. Examples of Malicious Injury to Personal Property

The Defendant grew up in Charlotte and is at a friend’s house in Indian Land to watch an ACC Football Game. They get into an argument over whether “Carolina” means the University of South Carolina in Columbia or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or “UNC.” The USC fan tells the Defendant to leave saying, “Go Cocks, the Tarheels stink. Go on back up the road to Mecklenburg County.” The Defendant throws his lucky Carolina Blue beer mug at his friend’s high definition television. The television screen shatters, destroying it. The total cost to replace the television is $3,500. The Defendant may be charged with Malicious Injury to Personal Property in South Carolina; in this case it would be a Felony Offense due to the property damage being over $2,000.

The Defendant discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her while she’s away at work Waffle House on Cherry Road in Rock Hill, SC. The Defendant is furious and spray paints “cheater” on the side of the boyfriend’s 1992 Honda Civic. The only damage caused was the paint on the car and the total cost to repaint the car is $1,200. The Defendant may be charged with Malicious Injury to Personal Property in SC; in such factual scenario, a Misdemeanor criminal charge would be appropriate due to the property damage being less than $2,000.

The Defendant’s friends ditch him to go jet skiing on Lake Wylie. The Defendant cuts a fuel line, thinking his friends will either run out of gas or the Jet Ski will catch on fire, requiring his friends to swim back. The Jet Ski indeed catches of fire and sinks near the Buster Boyd Bridge on “The River.” His friends are badly burned because of the resulting fire. The total cost to replace the Jet Ski is $15,000. The Defendant may be charged with Malicious Injury to Personal Property in York County, SC. It would likely be a Felony criminal charge due to the property damage being over $2,000. The Defendant also is likely looking at other serious felony charges regarding the resulting serious bodily injury.

3. Related Offenses

Other related crimes offenses include:

  1. South Carolina Code Ann. 16-11-510: Malicious Injury to Personal Property
  2. South Carolina Code Annotated 16-11-311: First Degree Burglary
  3. South Carolina Code Annotated 16-17-530: Public Disorderly Conduct (Misdemeanor)
  4. South Carolina Code Annotated 16-3-600: Assault and Battery in the First Degree (Felony)
  5. Carolina Law Blog – Legal Updates
4. Defenses to Malicious Injury to Personal Property

A criminal defense attorney helps by determining the appropriate defense or legal defenses for your specific case, whether the allegations are a felony or misdemeanor. A Defendant may also seek to challenge the offense of Malicious Injury to Personal Property in South Carolina by proving false accusations, that the accused did not cause the property damage, that the damage was accidental (not intentional), and/or that the property did not belong to alleged victim, etc.

5. Penalties

Malicious Injury to Personal Property can be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the cost to repair the damage or replace the property. The total damage also determines the punishment severity.

Damage CostOffense LevelFineImprisonment
Less than $2,000MisdemeanorMaximum $1,000 FineUp to 30 days
$2,000 - $10,000FelonyFine in the Discretion of the CourtMaximum of 5 years in prison in SC
$10,000 or moreFelonyFine in the Discretion of the Court (Judge)Maximum of 10 years in prison in South Carolina

6. Criminal Defense for Malicious Injury to Personal Property

Malicious Injury to Personal Property If you have been charged or are under investigation for Malicious Injury to Personal Property in South Carolina, it is important to consult with legal counsel without delay.

Exercise your right to remain silent. Take the Fifth. Call an experienced criminal defense lawyer for legal advice. Our law firm provides free consultations for criminal charges in South Carolina.

Attorney Chris Beddow is solely responsible for all South Carolina cases at Powers Law Firm PA and offers a confidential consultation for criminal cases in the update region of SC. What you tell lawyers in consultation is protected under attorney-client privilege.

CALL NOW: 803-504-6686

Chris Beddow is responsible for all South Carolina legal content on the law firm website. Mr. Beddow is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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