Felony Vandalism Conviction Modified To Misdemeanor Vandalism Because of Insufficient Evidence

Upon review, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals modified a felony vandalism conviction in a White County case to misdemeanor vandalism.  The defendant had previously entered a guilty plea to a vandalism charge with the grade of the offense to be determined at a sentencing hearing.  At the hearing, the only proof presented as to the value of the damaged property was the amount the victim paid to purchase the property years earlier.  In other words, the State failed to present any evidence as to the value of the property at the time of the offense or the cost to repair the property.  Since the State had not proven the value of the property beyond a reasonable doubt, it was deemed to have a value of less than $50.  See T.C.A. § 39-11-106.  Thus, there was insufficient evidence to support a felony vandalism conviction.

Relatedly, the appellate court also held that there was not sufficient evidence in the record to make a reasonable determination of the victim’s loss and the trial court made no findings as to the defendant’s resources or future ability to pay.

Based on the foregoing, the court of criminal appeals remanded the case to the trial court for a sentencing hearing on misdemeanor vandalism and to determine the proper amount of restitution.

State v. Lewis, M2014-01912-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. June 5, 2015).

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