My adult daughter damaged her boyfriends car. It’s uninsured. Can she go to jail?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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My adult daughter damaged her boyfriends car. It’s uninsured. Can she go to jail?

She damaged an Audi- hood, bumper, windshield and mirror. Cost because it
is an Audi will be significant? She has never committed crime or has gone to
jail. What can happen to her? Will she likely go to jail or just be responsible
to pay back the damages since it is a first offense? We live in MIchigan.

Asked on October 15, 2017 under Criminal Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Did she damage it intentionally, e.g. in a fit of anger? If so, then she could go to jail if he presses charges: the intentional damage to or destruction of another's property is, like it's intentional theft, a criminal act.
However, if she did not cause the damage on purpose or intentionally, she did NOT commit a crime: a crime requires a criminal intention, not simple carelessness. That's why car accidents are not criminal, unless, again, they were done on purpose (hitting another car or person intentionally) or caused by DUI (since DUI is crime). So if she carelessly damaged his car, she will not face jail time--but does have to repay the cost to repair. A good idea, since he appears to be reasonable (just seeking payment) would be for her to try to negotiate some payment schedule or terms she can afford. For example, could she repay between 10% of the cost per month.

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