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When Tossing Eggs Is A Crime

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(Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

(Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - What is the legal definition of misdemeanor vandalism?

I think we can all agree that Justin Bieber is a spoiled Canadian who can take his saggy pants and his delinquent entourage back over the border. Or at least those of us crotchety types who want him to get off our lawn.

Among the people who’d like their lawn to have nothing to do with him are his neighbors in Florida who filed a police report over allegations that he and his buddies threw eggs at their house, for which he’ll now face charges of misdemeanor vandalism. Believe me when I say I’m no Belieber. But vandalism? Does egg tossing really count if it washes away?

Every state defines vandalism slightly differently but in general, it’s a misdemeanor (a lower level crime) if you deface, damage, or destroy property that belongs to someone else. In some states, even if the damage is very minimal – less than $200 – it’s still criminal.

If there’s no lasting damage, like chalking flowers on a sidewalk or tossing eggs that can be washed away, it’s not actual damage so it’s not vandalism. But if those eggs break windows or cause, as Beiber’s were alleged to have done, thousands of dollars worth of damage, you bet charges can be filed.

But a better punishment for a mischievous kid – and frankly Bieber too – would be a note of apology to the neighbor, an offer to pay for all damage, and a long time out.

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