Assume that people covered the front of a building with red paint, smashed windows, locked the main lobby doors with a bicycle lock, and destroyed HVAC equipment, interrupting operation of a business.

What offences could have been committed and what is the range of sentences available for someone who participated in the entire endeavour?


1 Answer 1


The legally relevant part is the destruction of property. In this case, the facade needs to be re-painted, windows replaced and someone paid to remove the locks, new HVACs need to be bought... That's a lot of damage.

If the perpetrators were arrested on the spot with all the implements, that makes it very easy for the prosecution to prove the acts and that would be a slam-dunk case of at least Criminal Mischief:

I. A person is guilty of criminal mischief who, having no right to do so nor any reasonable basis for belief of having such a right, purposely or recklessly damages the property of another, or who causes permanent or temporary damage to public property including vandalism, defacement, destruction, tampering with, or any other unauthorized alteration to public property.

II. Criminal mischief is a class B felony if the actor purposely causes or attempts to cause:

(a) Pecuniary loss in excess of $1,500; or

A typical HVAC, a half dozen windows and a new paint coat for the front of a building are way above those magical $ 1500 - a typical window costs more than $ 200 already, and having someone install HVAC costs between $ 500 and $ 3000 in labor alone. It's actually likely that the damage is in the 5-digit area.

A class B felony is defined as:

I. The provisions of this section govern the classification of every offense, whether defined within this code or by any other statute.

II. Every offense is either a felony, misdemeanor or violation.

(a) Felonies and misdemeanors are crimes.

and has a sentence limit:

651:2 Sentences and Limitations. –

I. A person convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor may be sentenced to imprisonment, probation, conditional or unconditional discharge, or a fine.

II. If a sentence of imprisonment is imposed, the court shall fix the maximum thereof which is not to exceed:

(b) Seven years for a class B felony,

III. A person convicted of a class B misdemeanor may be sentenced to conditional or unconditional discharge, a fine, or other sanctions, which shall not include incarceration or probation but may include monitoring by the department of corrections if deemed necessary and appropriate.

IV. A fine may be imposed in addition to any sentence of imprisonment, probation, or conditional discharge. The limitations on amounts of fines authorized in subparagraphs (a) and (b) shall not include the amount of any civil penalty, the imposition of which is authorized by statute or by a properly adopted local ordinance, code, or regulation. The amount of any fine imposed on:

(a) Any individual may not exceed $4,000 for a felony, [...]

As such, the punishment that is awaiting the arrested perpetrators, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the Class B Felony, is a maximum 7 years plus up to $ 4000 in fines. Atop the criminal trial, the company also can civilly sue for the damages they suffered.

At various places, minimum sentences of 3.5 years for a Class B felony are claimed, such as this attorney and this attorney. This attorney claims it is 3.5-7 years, but no minimum mandatory penalty.

  • That’sa misreading: any crime with a max penalty over one year can be a class b felony but that doesn’t meant that any crime that is a class b felony must have a *minimum * penalty of one year imprisonment based on what you posted. Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 18:10
  • Still not fully convinced Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 18:15
  • 1
    @Seekinganswers The section referenced isn't quite the right one, but the answer is that "If a sentence of imprisonment is imposed, the court shall fix the maximum thereof which is not to exceed: . . . Seven years for a class B felony[.]" law.justia.com/codes/new-hampshire/2022/title-lxii/title-651/… There may be other provisions of Section 651-2 or related sections regarding the minimum penalty. Several years in prison would probably be typical.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 22:12
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    @ohwilleke fixed - and apparently (or so the lawyer's pages claim), there is a 3.5 minimum, but no law cites that.... strange...
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 22:43
  • @ohwilleke why didn’t you post “the answer” as… an answer? Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 2:40

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