Malicious destruction of property (MDOP) is a relatively common crime that might arise out of a personal conflict, an act of revenge, or a heat of the moment crime, such as when a customer loses his temper at a store. In domestic relations, a malicious destruction of property charge might be also be joined with charges of stalking or domestic violence.
There are numerous malicious destruction of property statutes under Michigan law that address specific types of acts and specific types of property. For instance, malicious destruction of police department property (MCL 750.377b) is a specific offense under Michigan law. Buildings, dams, timbers, and even library books are singled out for special attention by specific statutes.
The general malicious destruction of property statute, MCL 750.377a, describes felony charges for large amount of monetary loss of $1,000.00 and more and misdemeanor charges, where damages are less than $1,000.00. Prior convictions for malicious destruction of property may also be used to enhance less serious charges to felony charges.
As it pertains to simple misdemeanor charges, MCL 750.377a states:
(1) A person who willfully and maliciously destroys or injures the personal property of another person is guilty of a crime as follows:
. . . .
(c) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:
(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
(ii) The person violates subdivision (d) and has 1 or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit an offense under this section or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to this section.
(d) If the amount of the destruction or injury is less than $200.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.
The jury instruction for malicious destruction of property provides the following:
M Crim JI 32.2 Malicious Destruction of Personal Property (1) The defendant is charged with the crime of malicious destruction of personal property. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (2) First, that the property belonged to someone else. (3) Second, that the defendant destroyed or damaged that property. (4) Third, that the defendant did this knowing that it was wrong, [without just cause or excuse,] and with the intent to damage or destroy the property. (5) Fourth, that the extent of the damage was: . . . . (c) $200 or more, but less than $1,000. (d) some amount less than $200.
Malicious destruction of property is a specific intent crime, so voluntary intoxication is a defense to this crime. If a voluntary intoxication defense is raised, the jury is instructed that, "The defendant is not guilty of malicious destruction of property if the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that he lacked the intent to intentionally destroy or damage someone else's property because he voluntarily consumed a legally obtained and properly used medication or other substance and did not know and reasonably should not have known that he would become intoxicated or impaired as a result. (3) It is not a defense that the defendant was under the influence of or impaired by a voluntarily and knowingly consumed alcoholic liquor, drug, controlled substance, or a combination of them."