2011 Hawaii Code
711. Offenses Against Public Order
§711-1107 Desecration.

HI Rev Stat § 711-1107 (2011 through Reg Sess) What's This?

§711-1107 Desecration. (1) A person commits the offense of desecration if the person intentionally desecrates:

(a) Any public monument or structure; or

(b) A place of worship or burial; or

(c) In a public place the national flag or any other object of veneration by a substantial segment of the public.

(2) "Desecrate" means defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant's action.

(3) Any person convicted of committing the offense of desecration shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. [L 1972, c 9, pt of §1; gen ch 1993; am L 2002, c 198, §1]


Previous Hawaii law prohibited certain types of desecration. For example, desecration of the United States flag was prohibited.[1] Section 711-1107 deals more generally with all acts of desecration; i.e., acts of physical damage to or mistreatment of venerated places and objects under circumstances which the defendant knows are likely to outrage the sensibilities of persons who observe or discover the defendant's actions. Thus, any desecration of a public monument or structure; or a place of worship or burial (public or private); or, in a public place, the national flag, or any other object (such as certain religious objects) revered by a substantial segment of the public, will constitute an offense. Damage by desecration is treated separately from other types of property damage because the sense of outrage produced by such acts is out of proportion to the monetary value of the damage. Thus, desecration is a misdemeanor, although many such cases might otherwise be petty misdemeanors under §708-823 because the object desecrated is worth less than $50.


Act 198, Session Laws 2002, amended this section by changing the penalty for desecration from a misdemeanor to one year imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both. The legislature found that recent vandalism at cemeteries denoted that the current financial penalties of a misdemeanor offense for desecration were an insufficient deterrent. The $10,000 fine was consistent with the penalty in §6E-11(c), relating to destruction of historic property. The legislature believed that a burial place or grave deserved no less a penalty for damage than did a historical monument. Senate Standing Committee Report No. 2957, House Standing Committee Report No. 416-02.


§711-1107 Commentary:

1. H.R.S. §733-6; another example is §734-3 which prohibits desecration of a grave.

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