When thinking about criminal offenses, most people’s attention turns to those crimes glamorized by the media. We always hear about high profile murders and sex offenses. Lately the issues of criminal justice reform for non violent drug offenses also permeate the airwaves. But it is important to remember that the State of Florida has criminalized a far wider range of conduct than just the high profile crimes we hear about on the news. Many actions that you might not even think are criminal might end up with you in handcuffs and thrown behind bars.
One of these non-glamorous criminal offenses is criminal mischief. Although it sounds relatively tame, criminal mischief is an offense that can, depending on the severity of the facts, be charged anywhere from a misdemeanor all the way to a third degree felony. Criminal mischief is an offense that broadly criminalizes the damage or destruction of personal property. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal mischief, you should contact a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer right away.Elements of Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief is defined by Florida Statute 806.13 as the willful or malicious injury or damage by any means to the real or personal property belonging to another. You may be charged with criminal mischief if someone accuses you of causing damage to personal property. For example, if you are accused of keying someone’s car, smashing their cell phone, or scratching the paint on their boat, you could be charged with criminal mischief
Criminal mischief also applies to damage to real property. If you are accused of causing intentional damage to a building or home owned by another person, you may end up charged with criminal mischief. Criminal mischief also encompasses acts of vandalization like graffiti. While graffiti has recently grown into a celebrated form of street art, if you are caught tagging graffiti onto a building or property where you do not have permission, you will likely end up charged with the crime of criminal mischief. If you end up charged with such an offense, you should speak to a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer in order to build up a defense tailored to your case.Penalties
The penalties for a charge of criminal mischief vary based on your prior history and the severity of the case. The more damage that you allegedly caused, the steeper the criminal penalties will become. A first offense criminal mischief causing damage less than $200 is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum 60 days jail. For example, if you were accused of destroying a relatively cheap item, like a purse or an older piece of technology, you might end up charged with second degree criminal mischief. The penalties increase to a first degree misdemeanor if the damage is $1000 or less. Many people end up charged with first degree criminal mischief for breaking or damaging another person’s cell phone, which can now cost up to $1000 to replace.
You may find yourself in deeper trouble if the damage caused is alleged to be more than $1000. In this situation, you may end up charged with felony criminal mischief. Felony criminal mischief is a third degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years prison or five years probation. Felony criminal mischief is most often charged in cases where the defendant is alleged to have caused damage to a motor vehicle or real property. Motor vehicle repairs can be absurdly expensive, and what seems like a small amount of damage can end up costing several thousand dollars to fix. Cleaning and repairing real property due to damage from graffiti or other intentional acts can also be quite expensive, resulting in felony charges. Prosecutors may also demand restitution for the damage caused. If you have been charged with felony criminal mischief, it is critical that you consult a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer immediately.Speak to an Experienced Defense Lawyer Today
The lawyers at Hanlon law are well versed in defending property crimes cases such as criminal mischief. We see each case as unique and will develop an effective defense that works for you and your case. Call us today for a consultation at 727.289.0222.