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What Is Criminal Mischief?

The Criminal Consequences of Vandalism

Criminal mischief, more commonly known as vandalism, is the intentional and malicious destruction of another person’s property. It can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of damage inflicted, and usually carries jail or prison time.

Elements of Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief can take form as graffiti, vandalism, sabotage, defacement, breakage, or any other destructive act. In order to convict an individual, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant damaged property
  • The damaged property belonged to the alleged victim
  • The damage was willful and malicious

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief can be punished a misdemeanor of the first or second degree if the property is valued at less than $1,000. The convicted individual would face:

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor: when the property damage is worth $200 or less, punished by up to 60 days in jail
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor: when the property damage is worth between $200 and $1,000, punished by up to one year in jail

Felony Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony charge if the damage exceeds $1,000. As such, it is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Common Defenses to Criminal Mischief

Our attorneys can fight to defend you from a vandalism charge. Common defenses we can employ include questioning:

  • Whether the alleged victim was the sole property owner
  • Whether the damage was in fact a result of the defendant’s conduct
  • Whether the damage was intentional or accidental
  • Whether there is an acceptable justification for the defendant’s conduct

If you or a loved one have been accused of criminal mischief, you need aggressive legal defense. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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