Is Slashing Tires A Felony? (It Depends…)

  • Time to read: 4 min.

Answer: Slashing tires might be a felony.

Ultimately, the seriousness of the charges against someone who slashed the tires of the other depends on the value of the property damaged, as well as any other outcomes resulting from the actions.

Is Slashing Tires A Felony? (EXPLAINED)

Disclaimer

The contents of this web page are for informational purposes only, and nothing you read is intended to be legal advice. Please review our disclaimer about law/legal-related information on this website before taking action based upon anything you read or see.

What are the criminal charges which could result from slashing tires?

Slashing tires (when those tires don’t belong to you) is damaging property that doesn’t belong to you.

States have different names for property damage.

In some states, the name of the crime is “criminal mischief,” with several levels of seriousness of criminal mischief.

“Criminal mischief in the first degree”

“Criminal mischief in the second degree”

“Criminal mischief in the third degree”

The elements of criminal mischief are usually something like:

  • person knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or negligently
  • engages in conduct
  • that damages property
  • belonging to another

In some states, “disorderly conduct” is also another type of charge that could result from damaging property of another.

There are several degrees of disorderly conduct like there are with criminal mischief.

The elements of disorderly conduct are usually something like:

  • personal knowingly, intentionally, recklessly, or negligently
  • engages in conduct
  • that creates a hazardous or offensive condition
  • without the privilege to do so

You can see how slashing tires (making a car danger to drive or undriveable) could be considered disorderly conduct.

Will the criminal charge for slashing tires be a misdemeanor or felony?

In most states, the difference between a misdemeanor or a felony is the value of the damage.

For example, if someone slashes just one tire, and the replacement value of the tire (to the previous condition of the used tire or even brand new) is only a few hundred bucks (or less), then it is likely to be a misdemeanor.

If all four tires are completely destroyed, and the value of the tires as established by an expert (tire company) exceeds $1000 or more, then it is more than likely that the charge would be a felony.

The amount of damage required to push the case from a misdemeanor to a felony will vary state to state.

However, let’s say that the “slashing” of the tire did not completely deflate the tire, or the driver did not realize that his tire had been slashed.

Let’s say that person drives on the slashed tire, and crashed.

Perhaps it was just his vehicle which is damaged.

Maybe the property of a third party is damaged.

Maybe the driver or other individuals are injured or killed.

The tire slasher could be charged with some pretty serious felony charges, such as murder/manslaughter, attempted murder/manslaughter, negligent homicide, assault, and more.

The slasher could be charged with all of the logical consequences of his actions.

Does how many tires slashed matter?

In general, no.

In the end, the intent, the value of the damage, and the other consequences are the most important.

One tire vs two tires vs three tires or four matters as it relates to the value of the damages.

But we are not aware of any law which automatically makes a certain number of tires a misdemeanor and another number of tires a felony.

Motivations/Intentions Matter in the charging decision.

The intent of the tire slasher matters.

The case could be a simply criminal mischief.

But if the intent of the slasher was to cause serious physical harm or death to a person (even if it was physically impossible to kill the driver by slashing the tire), the slasher could be charged with attempted assault or even attempted murder.

Intent in cases like these is often proven with witness testimony recounting what the slasher said he wanted to happen.

Intent is also often proven by copies of text messages from the defendant, social media posts, or even previous bad acts by the defendant against the victim (highly technical).

The most serious of crimes involve intentional conduct (meaning full knowledge and understanding that the outcome would result from the action).

Lesser levels of serious involve reckless conduct (meaning should have known that the outcome would result but disregarded the risk), and negligent conduct (failing to act reasonably).

The Victim Matters, too.

Some states have laws in place which make criminal actions against certain individuals more serious.

For example, slashing the tires of a neighbor or stranger is likely to be a less serious crime than if the defendant slashed the tires of a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend (domestic violence enhancement).

The same is true if the tires slashed belonged to someone over 65 years of age (elder abuse enhancement).

Finally, if the tires slashed belonged to a important government agencies or departments (like the fire department, paramedics, first responders, law enforcement, etc), there could also be an enhancement to a felony.

Previous Criminal History Matters, too.

Some states have laws in place which make charges more serious against a defendant when the defendant has a history of previous convictions for the same conduct within a certain time frame.

In the end, whether a tire slashing is a misdemeanor or something more serious depends heavily upon the jurisdiction where the incident occurred as well as the circumstances of the incident.

Wrap Up

Want to learn more about your criminal justice system?

Browse our free legal library guides for more information.

You might also like: