Is it a crime to break your neighbor’s fence?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Fences are more than just ornaments designed to go around a property. They serve as barriers to help enclose an area, preventing outsiders from entering a private space. They also help mark the surveyed property line of a given lot.

Because of the importance of these barriers, breaking the fence of another person’s property is a criminal offense in Florida.

Breaking a fence is illegal

Under state law, anyone who willfully and maliciously breaks down, defaces, or creates an opening in any fence on a property that’s not their own commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. If a person commits a second or subsequent offense, it becomes a felony of the third degree.

If the fence – or any part of it – was used to contain animals at the time of the damage, the offense immediately becomes a felony of the third degree.

The penalties for breaking a fence

A conviction for a first offense under Florida’s law leads to up to a year in prison and $1,000 in fines. However, for a second or subsequent offense, the convicted faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

The maximum five-year prison sentence and $5,000 fine penalties also apply to those convicted of breaking a fence used to corral animals.

It’s a crime to break, damage or deface your neighbor’s fence. Even if your neighbor doesn’t own a farm or animals, just injuring a part of their fence can lead to a first-degree misdemeanor. Worse, you could also face additional charges for trespassing on your neighbor’s property. It may not be as serious as other crimes, but breaking somebody’s fence can lead to jail time.