2021 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 7 - Damage to and Intrusion Upon Property
Article 2 - Criminal Trespass and Damage to Property
Part 1 - General Provisions
§ 16-7-24. Interference With Government Property
- A person commits the offense of interference with government property when he destroys, damages, or defaces government property and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
- A person commits the offense of interference with government property when he forcibly interferes with or obstructs the passage into or from government property and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.
(Code 1933, § 26-2613, enacted by Ga. L. 1968, p. 1249, § 1.)Cross references.
- Destruction or defacement of county buildings or other property, § 36-9-11.
Damaging or destroying of military property by persons subject to Georgia Code of Military Justice, § 38-2-1108.
Defacing or injuring capitol building, property therein, or capitol grounds, § 50-16-5.Law reviews.
- For survey article on constitutional law, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 53 (1982). For article, "Misdemeanor Sentencing in Georgia," see 7 Ga. St. B.J. 8 (2001).
Policy reasons underlying and justifying section's classification.
- Damage to public buildings from which government serves the citizens affects adversely each and every citizen, both in delivery of services and in cost of repair. The government also has an interest in keeping the government's buildings open to the public simply so that the government's processes may be observed. Hence, damage to government property impairs public accessibility as well as government operation itself. Similarly, defacement necessitates repair and repair decreases access and increases costs. Moreover, since public property is generally more accessible than private property, it is necessary to provide more protection. Since this classification is neither arbitrary nor unreasonable and there is a fair and substantial relationship between the classification and the purpose of the law, former Code 1933, § 26-2613 did not unconstitutionally deprive the defendant of equal protection of the law. Sabel v. State, 248 Ga. 10, 282 S.E.2d 61 (1981), overruled on other grounds, Pruitt v. Keenan, 264 Ga. 279, 443 S.E.2d 842 (1994), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 973, 102 S. Ct. 524, 70 L. Ed. 2d 393 (1981).Included crimes.
- Elements of interference with government property are not included in the elements required for aggravated assault. Hyman v. State, 222 Ga. App. 419, 474 S.E.2d 243 (1996).
Defendant failed to show that the charge against the defendant for obstructing an officer by becoming verbally combative, refusing repeated orders, and resisting restraint under O.C.G.A. § 16-10-24, for which defendant was acquitted, was a lesser included offense under O.C.G.A. § 16-1-6 of the charge against the defendant of interfering with government property by kicking the sink off the wall and flooding the defendant's jail cell under O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24, for which defendant was convicted; a comparison of these two offenses shows that each offense has entirely different elements and requires proof of entirely different facts. Carter v. State, 267 Ga. App. 520, 600 S.E.2d 637 (2004).Proof of ownership in state, not particular agency, is essential.
- When an accused is indicted for criminal interference with property of the State of Georgia, ownership of the property is an essential element of the crime; but it is proof of ownership in the State of Georgia, not any particular agency thereof, that is essential. State v. Williams, 246 Ga. 788, 272 S.E.2d 725 (1980).Damage to automobile.
- When the state presents evidence that a county sheriff's automobile suffered damage when the automobile locked bumpers with the defendant's car during a high-speed chase and the deputy sheriff who was driving the sheriff's car at the time of the incident testifies that the vehicle was a completely marked county sheriff's car, the evidence is sufficient to authorize the jury to convict the defendant of the crime specified in O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24. Fields v. State, 167 Ga. App. 400, 306 S.E.2d 695 (1983).
Evidence that the defendant hit patrol cars while making a U-turn and appeared to be in full control of the defendant's vehicle just prior to the impact was sufficient for the jury to find that the defendant attempted to commit a violent injury to another's person and interfered with government property. Black v. State, 222 Ga. App. 80, 473 S.E.2d 186 (1996).
Evidence that the defendant, during a high-speed motor vehicle chase, directly and deliberately ran the defendant's car into a patrol car was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for criminal interference with government property. Arnold v. State, 262 Ga. App. 61, 584 S.E.2d 662 (2003).
Damaging a police vehicle by kicking and butting one's head against the door and window until the door was dented and the window frame was broken was sufficient evidence to support the defendant's conviction of interference with government property pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24(a). Weldon v. State, 262 Ga. App. 854, 586 S.E.2d 741 (2003).
Given the evidence provided by law enforcement that: (1) the defendant hindered and obstructed one officer in the lawful discharge of that officer's duties while the officer went to check on the welfare of the defendant's wife; (2) the defendant's act of resisting the other officer while that officer was arresting the defendant; and (3) the defendant's act of breaking off the interior door handle of the patrol vehicle and forcing the vehicle's window off the window's frame, the defendant's convictions for both felony and misdemeanor obstruction of an officer and a felony count of interfering with government property were upheld on appeal. Meeker v. State, 282 Ga. App. 77, 637 S.E.2d 806 (2006).
Given evidence that after arrest, the defendant continued to resist detention by kicking out one of the windows of a sheriff's patrol car, sufficient evidence supported the conviction as well as denial of the defendant's motions for an acquittal and for a new trial. Helton v. State, 284 Ga. App. 777, 644 S.E.2d 896 (2007).
Because the trial court did not err in charging the jury on the crime of destruction of government property using language that was identical to that found in O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24(a), and the evidence showing that the defendant collided with a patrol car owned by the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government was sufficient to allow the jury to find the essential elements of the crime charged; thus, a new trial as to this charge was properly denied. Knox v. State, 290 Ga. App. 49, 658 S.E.2d 819 (2008).
Sufficient evidence supported convictions of aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a peace officer, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, interference with government property, and criminal trespass after the defendant admitted obstructing officers and damaging a patrol car and the victim's vehicle; although the defendant denied assaulting the victim and responding officer, the jury was authorized to reject defendant's testimony in favor of theirs. Gartrell v. State, 291 Ga. App. 21, 660 S.E.2d 886 (2008).
Evidence that while attempting to flee from the police, a defendant who had stopped the vehicle the defendant was driving and then accelerated and struck a patrol car, causing damage to the vehicle, supported the defendant's conviction for interference with government property. Branton v. State, 292 Ga. App. 104, 663 S.E.2d 414 (2008), cert. denied, No. S08C1771, 2008 Ga. LEXIS 873 (Ga. 2008).
Evidence that after being arrested, the defendant head-butted the patrol car window was sufficient to convict the defendant of interference with government property in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24(a). Bradley v. State, 298 Ga. App. 384, 680 S.E.2d 489 (2009).Evidence sufficient for conviction.
- When a correctional officer who worked at the Youthful Offender Correctional Institution testified that, while watching a closed circuit television monitor, the officer saw the defendant, an inmate, breaking light fixtures and light bulbs with a stick, the evidence was sufficient to find the defendant guilty of interference with government property. Robinson v. State, 188 Ga. App. 553, 373 S.E.2d 825 (1988).
Evidence supported conviction when testimony showed that the defendants were the only ones with access to the damaged portions of a locked cell at the time of the incident. Davis v. State, 263 Ga. App. 841, 589 S.E.2d 603 (2003).
Testimony from an eyewitness at the scene that the eyewitness heard suspicious noises in the adjacent government offices, which were closed for business for the day, then saw the defendant flee from police while removing items from the defendant's pocket, when coupled with the discovery of 169 quarters which were found in the immediate vicinity of the tree where the defendant was apprehended, the presence of tools at the crime scene, visible pry marks on the door which the defendant attempted to open, and the destroyed gum ball machines, authorized the jury to infer that although the defendant did not have the tools in the defendant's possession, the defendant used the tools to break into the offices, steal the money from the destroyed machines, and attempt to flee the police and avoid apprehension; thus, the defendant's convictions for burglary, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, interference with government property, and obstruction of an officer were all affirmed. Harris v. State, 263 Ga. App. 866, 589 S.E.2d 631 (2003).
When the defendant, who was not in custody at the time, volunteered an explanation as to why the defendant possessed a weapon without authority, no Miranda warning was necessary and the evidence was sufficient to show that the defendant shot the defendant in a government building with a weapon that the defendant took from police custody in violation of O.C.G.A. §§ 16-8-2 and16-7-24(a); therefore, the trial court's findings were not clearly erroneous. McClendon v. State, 264 Ga. App. 174, 590 S.E.2d 189 (2003).
Evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction of three counts of interference with government property, a felony, after the defendant was observed tearing the padding off the isolation cell walls, the defendant admitted breaking the observation window on the isolation cell, and the defendant was observed with a rope that turned out to be the lining from the defendant's suicide gown and that was long enough to reach the surveillance camera, which had been torn from the camera's mounting bracket and was hanging by the camera's electrical wiring. Taylor v. State, 267 Ga. App. 588, 600 S.E.2d 675 (2004).Throwing eggs at government property.
- State's evidence was sufficient to find that the juvenile defendant committed criminal trespass, obstructed a police officer, and interfered with government property, and the juvenile court properly adjudicated the juvenile delinquent; the juvenile threw an egg at an officer's car damaging a plastic strip on the car window, broke at least two windows in the police substation, and obstructed an officer by fleeing after the officer was identified and ordered the defendant to stop. In the Interest of M.M., 265 Ga. App. 381, 593 S.E.2d 919 (2004).Placing feces on government property.
- Evidence was sufficient for the jury to find the elements of interference with government property because the fact that the camera and cell surfaces could be cleaned and restored to their previous appearance did not preclude the jury from finding that the defendant defaced the surfaces by wiping feces on the surfaces. Harper v. State, 337 Ga. App. 57, 785 S.E.2d 691 (2016).Damage to water meter.
- Evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's conviction for interference with government property because the defendant was a party to the act of damaging the locks to the water meter for the rental home in which the defendant was staying since the testimony of the rental company's principal and the meter reader established that the locks were damaged and removed by someone living in the house for the purpose of accessing the water meter, and according to an eyewitness, the defendant was in the yard while another person who also lived in the house was "messing with the meter"; since there was evidence that the defendant was present when the crime was committed, and the jury could infer from the defendant's conduct before, during, and after the crime that the defendant shared the criminal intent of the actual perpetrators, the evidence was sufficient to authorize the defendant's conviction as a party to the crime. Jackson v. State, 301 Ga. App. 406, 687 S.E.2d 666 (2009).Jury charge on proximate cause proper.
- In a defendant's trial for interference with government property in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24(a), a trial court did not err in instructing the jury on proximate cause because the statute had no requirement that the defendant intend to cause the damage to the property. That a police officer may fall into the water and damage the officer's equipment was a reasonably probable consequence of the defendant's resisting arrest and struggling with the officer at the side of a swimming pool. Harrison v. State, 313 Ga. App. 861, 722 S.E.2d 774 (2012).Sentence not cruel or unusual.
- Defendant's five-year sentence for interfering with government property was not cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of U.S. Const., amend. 8 as: (1) the sentence was within the sentencing range specified by O.C.G.A. § 16-7-24(a); (2) the sentence was not so disproportionate to the act as to shock the conscience; (3) the sentence was not retaliatory; and (4) there was no support for the defendant's claim that, although convicted of a felony offense, the defendant should have received a misdemeanor sentence because the defendant committed the offense while in jail for a probation violation. Carter v. State, 267 Ga. App. 520, 600 S.E.2d 637 (2004).
Cited in Porter v. State, 163 Ga. App. 511, 295 S.E.2d 179 (1982); Dickerson v. State, 180 Ga. App. 852, 350 S.E.2d 835 (1986); Groom v. State, 212 Ga. App. 133, 441 S.E.2d 259 (1994); Key v. State, 213 Ga. App. 556, 445 S.E.2d 349 (1994); Tate v. State, 289 Ga. App. 479, 657 S.E.2d 531 (2008).
OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
State employees cannot strike or otherwise interfere with performance of state employment.
- State employees have the right, either singularly or collectively, to express or communicate complaints or opinions relating to state employment including freedom to enter into organizations created for like purposes; the only limitation upon such activities of state employees would prevent their striking, or otherwise interfering with proper performance of the duties of state employment, or obstructing access to or egress from state property. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-379.
Department of Transportation has no power to take steps to prevent any labor activity short of strikes and other obstructions to the performance of the duties of employment. 1969 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 69-379.
Am. Jur. 2d.
- 52 Am. Jur. 2d, Malicious Mischief, § 2.C.J.S.
- 54 C.J.S., Malicious or Criminal Mischief or Damage to Property, § 1 et seq.