Slashing car tires falls under the legal designation of criminal mischief, according to Pennsylvania attorney Jason R. Antoine. Each state has its own penalties, which commonly include monetary damages, probation or jail time. Antoine also notes that criminal mischief penalties correlate with the dollar value associated with the damaged caused by the defendant.
Criminal mischief charges for slashing tires are classified either as a misdemeanor or felony. For example, Antoine notes that in Pennsylvania, financial damage of $5,000 or more is a third-degree felony. Levels of felony and misdemeanor charges for tire slashing vary among states. This charge does not apply to damaging one's own property.
Criminal defense attorneys Russo & Russo explain that victims of vandalism acts like tire slashing can be a "squeaky wheels" in these cases during sentencing negotiations. Damaging someone's personal property makes people feel personally violated, which causes victims to demand excessive damages in many cases.
A judge may decide to hand down a harsh or lenient sentence for tire slashing. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a man received up to 23 months in prison, a high restitution fine and 30 years probation for his tire-slashing offense. Conversely, Philadelphia Fox News station WTXF-TV reports that another man received only two years probation and a lesser fine for the same crime.