Criminal mischief is a term that is not uncommon, but seems to hold a very unclear definition. The truth is, the law behind a criminal mischief charge is, in fact, vague. Generally speaking, criminal mischief includes property damage without any form of communication between people. Typical acts of criminal mischief include vandalism and graffiti. However, there are a number of additional circumstances that could also be warranted as criminal mischief if there is a situation where there is damage to a property in any form. If you are charged with criminal mischief, it is important to seek the help of a Florida defense attorney who can help you create a plan of action that is specific to your case. There are a number of factors that are considered in court such as intent, cost of damages, and criminal record. There are certainly defense strategies that can improve the outcome for you in court.
Criminal mischief, while vague, does include a number of potential consequences that range in severity. The amount of money that it takes to repair the damages to the property will greatly impact the outcome for the accused. The following is a breakdown of potential outcomes:
- Damages that cost up to $200: classified as a second-degree misdemeanor with up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Damages that cost $200-$1000: classified as a first-degree misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.
- Damages that cost more than $1000: classified as a third-degree felony with up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Generally, if you are being convicted of your second criminal mischief charge then you will most likely receive a third-degree felony conviction rather than a misdemeanor.
While intent plays a role, do not be mistaken. The courts can still find a person guilty of criminal mischief even if the person was not completely aware that they were causing damage to someone else’s property. As with many laws, ignorance is usually not a solid excuse that holds up in the court of law.
Separate from vandalism, graffiti is generally dealt with in a much less severe manner. If you are found guilty of criminal mischief due to graffiti then you most likely will have to pay a fine. For your first offense, you will have to pay $250, for a second offense $500 and for a third offense $1,000. Additionally, you will probably be asked to complete several hours of community service as an additional form of punishment. The number of hours can vary and may increase based on the severity of the crime.
If you or someone you know has recently been charged with criminal mischief you should seek answers. Scott Skier is a defense attorney located in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has years of experience navigating the courts and helping his clients even in the most difficult situations. Reach out to him today so you can receive the type of defense strategy that you deserve.