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What Is Criminal Damaging, and How Is it Charged in Ohio?


When you knowingly or recklessly destroy someone else’s property, you could be charged with an offense known as criminal damaging or endangering. The crime could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. The level of offense depends on what was damaged and if any people could have been harmed as a result of your actions.

How Does Ohio Define Criminal Damaging or Endangering?

In Ohio, criminal damaging occurs when you destroy someone else’s property without their consent. The law doesn’t just prohibit the actual damage you caused. If your actions put the object at a substantial risk of physical harm, you commit a criminal act.

O.R.C. § 2909.06 states that no one should cause or create a substantial risk or physical damage to property either:

  • Knowingly: Being aware that the conduct will cause a specific result
  • Recklessly: Understanding there is a risk in engaging in a certain act but carrying it out regardless

Knowingly Causing Physical Damage

Let’s say you are passing by a store and you don’t like the way the sign looks, so you find a branch and damage it. Because you knowingly destroyed the property, you could be charged with criminal damaging.

According to the law, it doesn’t matter what type of instrument or means you use to physically harm someone else’s property. So if you threw rocks at the sign or hit it with a hammer, you’re still violating the law.

Recklessly Causing Physical Damage

In some situations, the law prohibits specific acts against property if they are done recklessly and cause or create a substantial risk of physical damage.

The means for carrying out the acts include:

  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Flood
  • Poison gas
  • Poison
  • Radioactive material
  • Caustic or corrosive material
  • Other inherently dangerous substances

What Are the Penalties for Damaging or Endangering?

The potential penalties for damaging someone else’s property depend on the level of charge for the offense. Again, this crime can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Generally, if you violate O.R.C. § 2909.06, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to 90 days in jail.

If your actions create a substantial risk of bodily injury to someone else, the class of the offense increases to a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to 180 days in jail.

Criminal damaging or endangering increases to a felony when it involves the destruction of aircraft parts and could possibly injure another person. The class of offense differs depending on the type of injury and whether or not people were on the craft at the time of the act.

The parts of an aircraft listed under the statute include:

  • The aircraft itself
  • An aircraft engine
  • A propeller
  • An appliance
  • A spare part
  • Any other equipment used to operate the aircraft

The felony classes for a violation of the law are as follows:

  • Fifth-degree: The action created a risk of physical harm to others. Conviction penalties include up to 12 months in prison.
  • Fourth-degree: The action created a substantial risk of physical injury to others, or the plane was occupied at the time of the offense. A conviction carries with it up to 18 months in prison.

Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC: Ready to Provide Effective Legal Counsel

If you’re facing charges for an offense such as criminal damaging or endangering in Union County, call our skilled team today. We have extensive experience handling a variety of criminal matters from traffic offenses to drug crimes, and we will fight aggressively to protect your rights.

For dedicated legal defense, call us at (937) 403-9033 or contact us online.