Criminal mischief is a commonly used term in criminal cases, but what exactly does it mean? Simply put, criminal mischief is any time someone damages another person’s property without the owner’s permission. Depending on the State, criminal mischief can also be called vandalism, damage to property, or malicious mischief.
- Criminal mischief is intentional, not accidental.
- It does not matter if you specifically intended to cause any form of physical damage, what matters is if you intended to participate in actions you knew, or should have known would cause property damage.
- The amount of property damage can be minor or significant, it does not matter.
- Criminal mischief does not include stealing property, only damaging and breaking property without the owner’s permission.
- Some examples of criminal mischief are graffiti painting, breaking a car door, or removing an emergency exit sign. In some states, introducing a virus to someone’s computer is also considered criminal mischief.
- Criminal mischief can also be committed recklessly.
- Reckless acts are not accidental, but instead are done with conscious disregard for actions and consequences, resulting in property damage.
Criminal mischief crimes can fall under misdemeanor or felonies. Felonies can result in a year (or more) in prison, while misdemeanor crimes can result in up to a year in jail.
- Jail or Prison:
- If property damage is only a few hundred dollars, sentences would only be around one to two months.
- Felony sentences where lives were at risk could result in five (or more) years.
- First-time offenders would most likely pay a fine if the damage was not substantial, and no lives were at risk.
- Misdemeanor fines can be a few hundred to one thousand dollars.
- Felony fines can be over five thousand to ten thousand dollars.
- The court could potentially issue probation instead of jail time or fines. The court would issue specific terms such as to maintain employment and meet with a probation officer regularly.
- Paying the owner of the damaged property.
- This gets paid directly to the property owner unlike fines, which go to the State.
Legal matters can be a stressful and difficult time, which is why it’s important to have a skillful and experienced attorney by your side. Here at Flowers Law Group, we are dedicated to providing you the representation and legal justice you need. If you find yourself in legal complications, don’t hesitate to contact our criminal lawyer in Suffolk County today.