House passes anti-vandalism bill


Marissa Renee Flores

The House of Representatives passed last week a bill that seeks to amend the punishment for the crime of vandalism to include the option of imprisonment.

With all 19 House members present voted “yes,” House Bill 23-14, House Substitute 1, House Draft 1, now goes to the Senate for action.

Before the voting, Rep. Marissa Renee Flores (Ind-Saipan), who is the author of the bill, offered a floor amendment to insert the word “knowingly” in line six on page 2. With the amendment the line should read: (a) It shall be unlawful for any person and/o or persons, to knowingly vandalize any public or private property.

Flores, who chairs the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee, said the reason for the amendment is they did get a comment from the Public Defender’s Office and one of the comments was that the bill did not clearly define an individual who may be suffering from any mental disorder.

“So we did put in that clause, put it ‘knowingly’ so there is some sort of measurement,” she said.

House members approved the floor amendment and subsequently passed the bill.

Flores stated in the bill that the Legislature created the offense of vandalism in Public Law 21-18 to address the proliferation of crimes involving the destruction of public and private property. Previously, that crime was addressed as criminal mischief, which included the optional punishment of confinement. Flores said the new law left out punishment ranges for confinement.

Without the option of confinement, vandalism has increased, she said.

Under the bill, if the pecuniary loss from the property vandalized is valued at $20,000 or more, or at least $2,500 but less than $20,000, the person in violation shall be punished by imprisonment of not more than 10 years and five years, respectively.

If the pecuniary loss from the property vandalized is valued at less than $2,500, or is not subject to value, the imprisonment is not more than one year.

In addition, there will be fines and/or community service penalties.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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