Have you or someone you know been accused of Criminal Mischief?
Criminal mischief is governed under Florida Statute 806.13 and can be classified as either a Misdemeanor or a Felony. Criminal Mischief is sometimes referred to as “Destruction of Property” or “Vandalism”. The Criminal Mischief Law makes it illegal to intentionally or maliciously damage or destroy the property of another. Former Prosecutor and Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Grant Schwarz at the Office of Dell & Schaefer can start building a defense for you today!
There are 3 levels of Criminal Mischief in Florida
If the damage to property is $200.00 or less, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by up to:
- Up to 60 days in county jail
- Up to 6 months of probation
- Up to $500.00 in fines.
If the damage to property is greater than $200.00 but less than $1,000.00, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by up to:
- Up to 12 months in county jail
- Up to 12 months of probation
- Up to $1,000.00 in fines.
If the damage to property is greater than $1,000.00, is it a felony of the first degree punishable by up to:
- Up to 5 years in Florida State Prison
- Up to 5 years of probation
- Up to $5,000.00 in fines.
Possible Defense to Criminal Mischief
There are numerous defenses available for the charge of Criminal Mischief. Some of the common defenses include the following:
Very often, damage occurs to personal or real property that happened completely by accident without any intent on the part of the defendant. Many times damage to property will occur due to negligence rather than criminal intent. For example, you are walking towards your car and trip and fall while holding your keys. The keys scratch the car parked next to you and a police officer sees you and tries to charge you with criminal mischief. The charge could never hold up because the damage was not caused intentionally.
Another example of no criminal intent is if you are in a fight with another person. You push the other person off of you and they fall back and break a side view mirror or a car or a mailbox or window to a house. Your intention was not to cause damage to property, so therefore a charge of Criminal Mischief is unlikely.
Owner of the Damaged Property:
Also, if you are the owner of the allegedly damaged property, you will also likely avoid a charge of Criminal Mischief. It’s your property; you can do whatever you want with it.
I will also look to see whether there are any legal justifications for the conduct of the Defendant in damaging property. If the Defendant is locked inside a room or a car, it will be a very good argument that damage to the property was necessary to escape or protect him/herself or others.
Issues for Juveniles and College Students
Juvenile Offenders and College Students are particularly sensitive types of clients that can be exposed to different and sometimes more severe penalties than others. Juvenile cases (younger than 18 years old) are handled in a totally separate court with different procedures and potential consequences. The Juvenile courts are more interested in rehabilitation and structure at home than they are about punishment.
A typical resolution for a first time juvenile offender would be some type of pre-trial diversion program or a sentence of community service hours. However, many juvenile offenders could potentially be at risk of losing School Scholarships, Florida Bright Futures, or expulsion from their schools based on their arrest record.
This is also true for College Students. Many Criminal Mischief charges arise from on or off campus “Antics” involving graffiti or other type of childish vandalism. Every university has a student code of conduct which is readily available on the school’s website. These codes of conduct include information about what will happen to a student who has been accused of or arrested for a crime.
To add insult to injury, many times, police will forward the arrest information to school administration and the school may take action outside of the court system. This action may be in the form of a code of conduct violation which could result in a suspension from school. Depending on what is written in the police report, you could potentially be facing suspension or expulsion from school.
Don’t let this happen to you!
Contact a Broward County, Miami, and Palm Beach Vandalism Lawyer
Contact Grant Schwarz, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami. Hiring a skilled and experienced lawyer can help to guide you through this process and to ensure that you understand what exactly you are being charged with, and how to defend yourself against the negative consequences of a criminal charge. Call 954-620-8320 or email at [email protected].