A charge of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property means the defendant intentionally caused damage to real property. We’ve broken down North Carolina Criminal Law 14-127 and what it may mean for you. If you have further questions about next steps and are interested in legal representation, contact the lawyers at King Law today.
What is Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property?
Under North Carolina Criminal Law 14-72.2 the defendant—the person charged with committing a crime—must be proven to have intentionally damaged or injured some type of real property that belongs to another person. The differentiating factor of the law is that it applies to real, not personal property.
Land or anything affixed to it, such as buildings, fences and gates, is considered real property. Anything not attached directly to land, such furniture, household contents, cars, and cellphones is defined as personal property.
Requirements for Conviction of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property in NC
The District Attorney must provide evidence to prove every element of the charge of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property beyond a reasonable doubt. The following points are those which generally must be proven:
- The defendant damaged or destroyed real property
- The real property belonged to another person
- The defendant damaged the real property intentionally, not as the result of an accident.
To achieve a conviction, the State must prove specific intent without legal justification or excuse. In other words, they must demonstrate that the Defendant caused the damage on purpose and without permission.
Similar Offenses to Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property
Certain types of crimes and acts the defendant may not have realized could be classified as a crime may trigger a Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property charge. In such a case, a person may also face a combination of related charges for which a defense lawyer will be needed, such as injury to personal property, resisting arrest, misdemeanor breaking or entering, domestic violence, felonious breaking or entering, as well as defense against false allegations.
For example, consider the following premise, which may illustrate Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property: a college student may have intended to play a simple prank, like those he’s seen on TV or heard described as traditions by alumni of the institution. The student unlawfully enters a building owned by the college, damaging a window that was cracked by forcing it completely open. The student intends to remove a valuable painting, planning to return it anonymously, later.
Once inside the building, before leaving with the painting, the student decides to also flip over the desks inside several classrooms, including those of the instructors. He also opened a can of paint left outside the maintenance department and spread it along the main hallway floor.
Though the student intended no permanent harm, he is surprised to face both felony and misdemeanor charges. The Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property would apply as it could be expected the student was aware of the implications of the damage he inflicted upon the building.
Defending a Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property Charge
Our skilled criminal defense lawyers are well-versed in various approaches to defending Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property. Some of the most effective approaches to this category of charge may include mistake of fact, and lack of intent.
A defendant is sometimes faced with criminal charges for damage that occurred accidentally. In other cases, the defendant is the property owner or they may have been granted permission by the owner to remove something that’s attached to a building, as is the case when a landlord sends a contractor to remove something attached to the property of a tenant.
What are the Penalties if Convicted of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property?
Under North Carolina Criminal Law, Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 120 days in jail. The type and amount of jail time and fines varies depending on the specific nature of the offense and resulting damage caused by the defendant’s actions.
The court may order other terms and punishment conditions, including supervised or unsupervised probationary terms, community service hours, restitution for damages caused, court costs, community service costs, supervision fees and other fines.
Contact an Experienced North Carolina Defense Attorney at King Law Today
A charge of Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property in North Carolina requires the skills of an experienced North Carolina criminal lawyer. Don’t make the mistake of representing yourself. At King Law we care about your concerns. Facing a criminal charge can be unsettling, but we will gladly listen to the details of your case. You can rest assured we’ll do our best to achieve a result that is in your best interests. We are proud to serve North Carolina residents. Contact us today via our website or call (888) 748-KING.