Q: Does property damage in the first degree have to be proven malicious or do accidents count too?
A: Malicious is not the right word. But the State would have to prove "intent to damage property". If it was truly an accident, that would be a plausible defense to the charges. However, that would depend on the specific facts of your case.
People get in car accidents every day and do not get charged with crimes because they are only accidents and nobody was intentionally trying to hit another car.
Please make sure you have an attorney that can explore that defense with you as property damage in the first degree is a felony in the state of Missouri.
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