Property is damaged each and every day. There are hundreds of car accidents, daily, in the state, ranging from insignificant to severe. Accordingly, the involved vehicles are damaged to some degree. Rarely do these incidents involve the prosecution of the participants. These are typically considered "civil" cases and are handled as such, based on principles of negligence to determine fault, and the rights of those involved.
It goes without saying that one cannot intentionally destroy or damage the property of another. Maryland labels this crime malicious destruction. Malice is a term that generally 'retains its judicially created meaning', and is not defined in Maryland statutes. At a minimum, an act done with malice would have to be intentional in nature.
In order to sustain a conviction for malicious destruction, the State would have to prove an intentional act that was done wickedly, with an intent to cause damage to the property of another without any reason.
One cannot be convicted of a crime of malice because they drove negligently or sideswiped a parked car, and caused some damage. It is not enough that damage was done. The State must prove the intent to cause the damage, or, a reckless and complete disregard of the rights of the property owner.
The penalties vary depending on the value of the property damaged. Destruction of property worth more than $1000 carries a penalty of 3 years incarceration. Skilled Baltimore criminal defense lawyers have successfully argued that where the state cannot satisfactorily prove the value of the property, the only sustainable charge is malicious destruction of property less than $1000.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 2/12/20.