Criminal mischief… it is one of those charges that are usually accompanied by other charges. Since it is a charge that carries defined consequences, it is best to have a top-notch criminal defense attorney help fight to reduce or remove this charge.
The State of Florida defines criminal mischief as: when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages any real or personal property belong to another, including graffiti and other acts of vandalism. In fact, the damage doesn’t have to be intentional. If an individual is arrested for driving while intoxicated, and happens to drive through someone’s fence, beside the DUI charge, they may also be charged with criminal mischief.
Criminal mischief includes real property (home, yard, fence…) but also personal property as well. If during an argument the accused individual grabs the other person’s cell phone and throws it do the ground, destroying it – they can be charged with criminal mischief for damage to personal property.
In order for the accused to be found guilty of criminal mischief, the prosecutor must show that either real or personal property was damaged, and it was done willfully or maliciously. There are several ways to defend against this charge, but a criminal defense attorney is the best person to decide which route to take.
A couple defenses to be looked at: Is the accused the person that actually caused the damage? Does the victim own the property or does it belong to both parties? Was it a willful act or an accident that happened during an argument? And of course… what are all the circumstances of the instance.
Depending on the amount of damage done, a criminal mischief charge can be either a misdemeanor or even a felony.
- Property damage of less than $200 = 2nd degree misdemeanor = up to 60 days in jail and fines
- Property damage of $200 – $1000 = 1st degree misdemeanor = up to 1 year in jail and fines
- Property damage of over $1000 = 3rd degree felony = up to 5 years in jail and fines
And if there are prior convictions of criminal mischief, it can instantly become a 3rd degree felony. This is not a charge you want to try to fight without the help of an attorney.
Graffiti is also considered criminal mischief, but carries different sentencing. Besides paying the fines, an individual will usually incur community service to make retribution for the crime. While it may not seem like much damage is happening at the time, causing graffiti can have expense consequences.
- 1st conviction of graffiti = $250 fine
- 2nd conviction of graffiti is $500 fine
- 3rd conviction of graffiti is $1000 fine
At The Law Office of Travis Koon, we will talk with you to understand the entire situation and how you came to be charged with criminal mischief. We have successfully fought this charge in the past and will fight for you too. We are Florida attorneys that understand the laws and defenses that are needed to help you through the maze of the criminal justice system. Call us today. We have offices throughout Florida, in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and are here to speak with you.