Can we be charged for damages to a property that we did not commit? 60 Answers as of June 02, 2013

A friend rented a hotel room and the room got damaged. I did not damage the room. Can we be charged and sent to jail for something we didn't do? They said they are issuing a warrant for our arrest.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
It's possible you may be charged due to accomplice/liability theories or other grounds. However, simply because a person is charged does not mean that they will be convicted. The legal burden to charge somebody is much lower than the burden to get a conviction; i.e., proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone charged with an offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone charged with a criminal offense has a right to council. I strongly recommend you exercise that right and either retain your own lawyer, or request, if available, that the court appoint you a lawyer at the public's expense.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/4/2012
Burdon and Merlitti
Burdon and Merlitti | Adam Van Ho
Criminally, your friend could be charged, but the government would have to show that he actually committed the damage to the property. As far as you, the government would have to show that you were actually involved in the property's destruction. However, if neither of you were involved and if they have nothing to specifically link you to the damage, then at most your friend should be only civilly liable for the damage to the room.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/3/2012
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
You can be charged but they have to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/30/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
If you are charged, the State must have proof that you knew or participated in the crime. You may have to hire an attorney to defend the charges.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 12/27/2011
Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
It is possible to be charged with a crime that you did not commit when parties are lacking information necessary to identify the guilty party. For this reason you should take any potential criminal charges very seriously and contact a local criminal defense attorney immediately to begin fighting the charges. It is possible that the attorney will be able to contact the local DA to explain the situation to him or her and attempt to persuade them not to pick up the charges or to drop the case in light of new evidence.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 12/21/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    The Law Office of Marc G. Snyder | Marc Gregory Snyder
    The simple answer to to your question is yes. People are charged every day for things they did not do. This is one of the reasons criminal defense lawyers are around. The State will look at a case, the potential evidence, witnesses, etc. and decide if charging a certain person or persons is appropriate. If so, they will file charges. However, innocent people are charged all the time. If you are innocent and believe you will be charged, or you know that a warrant has already been taken out for you, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. He will be able to discuss the matter with the State and find out why you have or will be charged and how to get you out of it.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/20/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    All the owner can do is reported to the police the police take a report then send it on to the da's office. The DA then decides whether or not to charge. You would then receive a date to appear in court. A warrant will not be issued for your arrest unless you do not appear in court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    They maybe be able to charge you with the crime depending on the evidence but being convicted is another matter. However the people on the agreement my be liable to pay for the damages. You need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    There is an unfortunate side of our legal system - you do not have to be guilty to have to defend. Simply stated, the burden of proof necessary to issue an arrest warrant is much lower than the burden of proof necessary to put you in jail for the crime. So yes, you can be arrested, on this very thin circumstantial evidence - that being you were in the room and it was damaged on the same day.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    Yes, have you heard of the Innocence Project? It is possible to be convicted of something you did not do. Contact an attorney immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    The Law Offices of Scott L. Little, LLC | Scott L Little
    First of the answer depends on who "they" is. A warrant can only be issued by a judge or someone with quasi judicial authority, i.e, the District Court Commissioner. That is not up to the hotel owner or employees of the hotel. Secondly, a warrant (more likely a summons will be issued) can be issued for you notwithstanding the fact that you did not rent the room or cause the damage. Your relief, if any, will come in the form of a not guilty verdict since you neither rented the room nor casued the damage.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Aaronson Law Firm
    Aaronson Law Firm | Michael Aaronson
    You can only be held accountable if they are able to improve your accountability. Simply being there without anything more is not enough.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Fagan, Fagan & Davis
    Fagan, Fagan & Davis | Steven H. Fagan
    If the police have evidence that they believe can be used to demonstrate probable cause exists (a very low standard of proof) that you've committed a crime, they can file a complaint. Find an appropriate criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    That is a matter of proof for the police and the prosecutor. Obviously someone believes you are responsible and they have the power and discretion to charge you. You have the right to a trial to test their proof.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    When your friend rented the room, he became responsible for what happened in the room. While his actions may not be criminal, he may be civilly liable for any damages done to the room while it was rented by him.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    It depends on who rented the room. Was rental of the room done in your friend's name? Was your name and information taken down by anyone? If nobody has your name, then it will be difficult to have you charged. If your name was submitted, then the hotel can approach the State's Attorney or Police and request charges against you for Criminal Damage to Property. The State has the burden to establish evidence or testimony at a trial to prove that you damaged the property. They could also sue you civilly. There are many variables involved here.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    You can be charged, but the burden is on the State to prove you committed the act. If you are charged, contact a lawyer. You should not speak to the police without a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If you weren't there then you can be charged (anybody can be charged). But, the charges won't stick.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    The prosecution will need to prove that you were the one who intentionally caused the damage to the hotel room. This may be a difficult task if more than one person rented the room. You should retain an attorney as soon as possible to contact the prosecutor, notify them of your legal representation, and request that a summons issue instead of a warrant for your arrest.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Offices of Phil Hache
    Law Offices of Phil Hache | Phil Hache
    Well, if the room was checked out to your friends name, then he will likely be held responsible for the damages incurred. Assuming there was nothing criminal done, they can't issue a warrant for an arrest. They would potentially come after you in civil court in order to get recouped for the damages caused. I would need more info to better assess the situation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You certainly can be charged with anything. Convicted is a different story. You need a skilled lawyer to defend you against the charges or you will likely find yourself in a difficult situation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Hotels take a credit card in case you steal property or damage anything in the hotel. They do not usually have you charged criminally if they get the damages from the credit card. They may not have enough evidence to have you charged criminally if there were more than one person in the room. If your credit card cannot be charged the hotel may have you charged to get the restitution.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    You answered your own question. If there is an arrest warrant, they are going to charge you. There is a much lower standard in the proof they need to charge you (probable cause) than the proof they need to convict you (proof beyond a reasonable doubt).
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Aaron M. Goldsmith, PC | Aaron M. Goldsmith
    Usually a hotel will charge repair/cleaning/etc to the credit card of the registered occupant of the room for damages. If the cost of repair and replacement is enough, the hotel may alert the police. The real question is - if your friend was the person who rented the room, how did the hotel know to go after you? You need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and protect your interests.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Anybody can be charged for anything. It's one thing to bring forth charges, it's another thing entirely to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Since you were there, they can be conclusively sure who did what so they will charge you both and let the judicial system figure the rest out. You need to be represented by an experienced criminal lawyer because the stakes are too high and the process too complicated to do it yourself.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    The hotel cannot issue a warrant. The procedure is that the hotel must first make a police report (if so, the police may contact you and ask to talk to you. It's up to you whether you talk to them or not.) The police will then decide whether to forward the case to the DA and request prosecution. Then the DA's office reviews the case and decides whether or not to issue it. Only then does the case begin life in court. It's highly doubtful that you would be sent to jail for damage to a hotel room - usually just a fine and pay for the damage. If you did not do any of the damage then, of course, you would put that fact forth as your defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/19/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Unfortunately, yes. Anyone can be charged criminally but the District Attorney's Office must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the person that committed this crime.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    It's very easy to be charged. If someone says you did it or there is any (ANY) proof that you may be involved, you can be arrested. Then you hire an attorney to figure out what really happened and who is responsible.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton | Cindy Barton
    If you were responsible for the room, like it was rented in your name, you may be liable for the damage. However, if you did not do the damage, did not encourage or help with the damage, you should not be liable in a criminal court.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    Who are "we"?? You and who else. If the other person is the friend who rented the room, and damage was done by someone who your friend invited into the room, then absolutely Yes, your friend can be sued for the damages because by renting the room, your friend assumed control. You have given me no facts, so I can't say whether or not criminal charges could result. Civil charges, yes, but criminal charges, not sure from your question. You should consult with local attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    You may be charged with the crime of Destruction of Property, and/or you may be sued in civil court for damages to the property.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Wise Law Group
    Wise Law Group | Michael J. Wise, Esq
    They would have to prove you either vandalized the roomier aided and abetted in the vandalism beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If you shared the room with the person who inflicted the damages you might be charged along with the person who did this.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    If numerous people were in the room where the damage occurred, everyone can be charged. But if it cannot be proven who actually caused the damage, the only person legally responsible who be the person who rented the room. Even if you were to be charged and convicted, on a first offense of this nature you are likely only looking at probation, a fine, and restitution.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes you can be falsely accused and charged and convicted. That is why you should call us to defend you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Glojek Ltd | Joseph E. Redding
    They can charge you as a party to a crime if you assisted or were ready able and willing to assist. If convicted, restitution will be ordered.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Can you be charged with damages to property which we did not damage? Yes, I can think of situations in which you did not personally cause the damage, yet be civilly liable for the damages. Can you be charged with a crime you did not commit? Yes, it does happen. Can you be jailed for something you did not do? Once again, yes, it has happened in the past and most likely will happen again in the future.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of James S. Lochead
    Law Office of James S. Lochead | James S. Lochead
    Whoever rented the room is liable for damages to that room. For criminal charges to be upheld there is a higher standard of proof that you intentionally damaged the room. Whether you can be sent to jail depends upon: i) your prior criminal record ii) amount and type of damage iii) evidence that you and you friend caused or allowed to be caused, the damage at isssue. If you did not damage the room and it is only in our friend's name, you should be able to avoid going to jail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine
    Law Firm of Martin & Wallentine | Jerry Lee Wallentine Jr.
    You could potentially be charged with criminal damage to property. However, at trial, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you damaged the property. It sounds like that may be an issue. However, there may be circumstantial evidence if you were staying in the room.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Frankel & Cohen | Scott Jay Frankel
    Unfortunately, in Illinois there is a history of innocent people being charged with crimes. You will need to locate a qualified attorney you can trust to fight your case and obtain an acquittal of the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Flood Lanctot Connor Stablein, PLLC
    Flood Lanctot Connor Stablein, PLLC | Paul J. Stablein
    The simple answer to the question is, "Yes." Innocent people, unfortunately, can easily get caught up in the criminal justice system, and, unless they are represented by competent counsel, find themselves convicted of crimes they did not commit. It is rare, but based upon the competence of the prosecution, the judge, and the defense attorney, injustices can occur. Whether that will happen in your case is impossible to predict at this point, without having much more information about the evidence that the prosecution possesses they intend to use to prove that you are guilty. Many defendants, at first, fail to understand that the prosecution can present a case on any number of different theories which may ultimately result in a conviction. It is important that you retain a qualified criminal defense attorney in order to protect your rights to a fair determination of your guilt or innocence.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC
    The Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC | Elizabeth Zwiebel
    Only the police or district attorney can issue a warrant. If you are charged, you will need to seek legal advice prior to giving any statements to the police.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    Yes, people are charged and convicted of crimes they did not do everyday. Nearly two hundred people have been convicted and sentenced to death for crimes that they were eventually proven innocent of. You should contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    The Jarrett Firm, LLC
    The Jarrett Firm, LLC | Patrick Jarrett
    You can be charged and arrested. If there is a warrant for your arrest, go speak with a criminal defense attorney in your area before you speak with the police. If you did not do it, you will need to have a good attorney to fight the charges. Unless they do not issue a warrant or drop the charges later, you will have to fight the case. Start thinking about the proof you can produce that shows you did not commit the crime and let your attorney know. Best wishes.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    If the damage occurred while you were renting the room, you can be charged whether or not you actually did any damage yourself.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Whoever rented the room is responsible unless he can point to the responsible party. There's a presumption that if you were there and stuff got broken, you broke it absent some other reasonable explanation. I would hire a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    You could be charged as an accomplice. Accomplice liability is complex and is based on your relationship with the one who caused the damage and your actions taken in furtherance of the crime. Mere presence is not enough, there must be an allegation that you took some action.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Fabian & Associates, Inc.
    Fabian & Associates, Inc. | Stephen G. Fabian, Jr.
    you are responsible to return the room in the condition in which you rented it, except for ordinary wear and tear. If a guest or someone you invited to the room did the damage, you may be liable, and the person doing the damage is also liable.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Thomas C. Brandstrader Attorney At Law | Thomas C. Brandstrader
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    Yes. You may be charged if there is sufficient evidence to believe you were involved in the damage either directly or as an aide. Of course, you have defenses including the defense that you lacked the requisite intent for the offense.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    THOMAS G. GILL, P.A. | Thomas G Gill
    A warrant can issue based on probable cause. If a commissioner believes that there is probable cause to issue a warrant it will issue. You'll have your day in court and the State will have to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If you were in the room and a crime was committed than it is possible that you could be arrested. However, damage to a hotel room is usually handled as a civil (non-criminal) matter.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    You can always be charged with a crime. Unfortunately, many people are charged with crimes they didn't commit.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Who every rented the room would likely be the person charged with a crime. Sounds like you may have to hire an attorney to fight the matter.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP | M. Jason Rhoades
    A warrant can be issued and you can be arrested, yes. Whether or not you are later convicted depends on the evidence the hotel has that it was you who damaged the room, or that you participated. The smartest thing you can do right now is keep your mouth shut and get an attorney who can protect your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Orent Law Offices, PLC
    Orent Law Offices, PLC | Craig Orent
    If in fact you did not do anything wrong, and the government fails to prove otherwise then the answer is "no." But those are big "ifs." It sounds like you will be charged with a crime. The claim that an arrest warrant will be issued does not sound correct, however. If you were not arrested that day, typically, especially if just a misdemeanor, you will receive a summons to appear in court through the mail; that does not mean a warrant will not issue in your case, but it is not the standard approach. You should directly contact an attorney and consult with him/her about your matter immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    If there's a reason to suspect that you damaged property, you could be charged with vandalism. You will have to go to court and defend yourself. You might have a defense if you're innocent, but that won't stop you from being accused.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    The hotel cannot issue a warrant - only the police or prosecution can do that. The decision to file criminal charges is left exclusively up to the prosecution. They will have to prove what, if anything, YOU did. Not that you were present, but that you actually did something that caused damage. There is no legal obligation to stop somebody from committing a crime, but if you participated in any way (even through encouragement, but not directly breaking something yourself), then they could go after you. Since you know there's an investigation ongoing, I'd strongly suggest you sit down and discuss your options with a local criminal defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2011
    Law Office of Jason D. Baltz | Jason Daniel Baltz
    I suppose that you can be charged criminal damage to property or some related charge, but the real question is whether the State can convict you. If you did not do it, then the State will have a hard time convicting you. It is imperative that you obtain an attorney and do not answer any questions unless you have an attorney present. You have a 5th Amendment Right to remain silent. Be sure to exercise that right.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 12/16/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney