I am currently working on a fictitious legal system and am looking for a single word for property damage. I could not find a legal term that fits, though you may know of better resources than I.
It would be ideal if it were a noun so it could be placed in the following context: “The accused committed an act of …”
Any and all suggestions would be welcome and I hope you enjoy the challenge.
In common law, in the case of real property (i.e. land), waste is used.
According to the relevant definition in the legal dictionary at Dictionary.com:
n. 1) any damage to real property by a tenant which lessens its value to the landlord, owner or future owner. An owner can sue for damages for waste, terminate a lease of one committing waste and/or obtain an injunction against further waste.
Essentially, waste is unauthorised changes made to the land. Waste describes the damage and cause of action but waste doesn’t necessarily involve a criminal act. Also waste is waste whether it was caused deliberately or not.
Technically, the definition given above isn’t 100% accurate and waste can actually improve the land, but in these cases it is distinguished as ameliorative waste.
However, its precise meaning in common law would not matter for your purposes – I presume you just want some kind of real-world hook to hang the concept on – waste would have sufficient verisimilitude, is conveniently general and also has a nice, harsh condemnatory ring to it.