A former student from the University of Missouri has pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor property damage in connection with vandalizing property on campus by painting a racist slur. The incident occurred last winter, according to reports.

The 20-year-old man received a suspended sentence of 90 days in the county Jail from the circuit judge assigned to the case. The judge decided to suspend the sentence in favor of two years of probation, according to the young man's attorney. He will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service.

The man had originally been arrested on suspicion of felony second-degree property damage because of the nature of the crime. The vandalism carried extra weight because of its discriminatory motivation, according to court documents.

The man apparently painted a racial slur directed toward African Americans on a statue outside of a campus building. Later in the day, local police officers discovered that an anti-Jewish slur had been painted on a vehicle that was parked along a street near campus.

Court proceedings were postponed on numerous occasions because laboratory results regarding the connection between the two incidents were delayed. Court officials said that laboratory samples could have linked the man to the second crime scene, but no evidence was ever produced to substantiate those claims, and the man pled guilty only to charges related to the statue defacement.

Misdemeanor crimes carry significantly less weight than felonies. The young man likely pled guilty to a less serious charge as part of a plea bargain. Although he is emerging from the case relatively unscathed, the convict would likely face additional jail time if he violates the terms of his probation.

Though this man's apparent plea agreement appears to have favorable terms, it is hoped that he consulted with his legal representative prior to accepting the deal offered by prosecutors. By doing so, he made sure the move was in his best interests and was most likely to provide the just outcome. Making a decision as weighty as one involving a plea bargain is something that clearly should be taken seriously, as it can affect your liberty and reputation.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, "Racist graffiti nets probation sentence," staff reports, June 5, 2012.