What is Criminal Mischief?

Criminal mischief can refer to a variety of offenses. Generally, it refers to acts of vandalism and tampering with victims’ property. In New Jersey, criminal mischief can be charged as a disorderly persons offense, a 4th degree crime, or a 3rd degree crime, depending on the monetary value of the property damages or destroyed.

Many people mistakenly believe that criminal mischief charges are not serious criminal charges. Although they certainly carry lower penalties than crimes like murder and arson, they are not charges that should be ignored or downplayed. A criminal mischief charge can come with fines and other penalties for an individual and stay on his or her record possibly for the rest of his or her life. If you have been charged with criminal mischief, work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to try to have your charge downgraded or dismissed.

Examples of Criminal Mischief Offenses

  • Damaging property of a public utility company;

  • Throwing objects at moving cars;

  • Spray painting or otherwise marking another individual’s property;

  • Kicking over headstones;

  • Defacing or damaging a street sign; and

  • Purposely damaging rented property.

Despite the perception that criminal defense is a teenager’s crime, adults commit this offense as well and can be prone to do so when under the influence of alcohol.

Penalties for Criminal Mischief Convictions

How a criminal mischief offense is charged depends on the monetary value of the property damaged or destroyed.

When the value of the property is $500 or less, it may be charged as a disorderly persons offense. The penalties for this type of conviction include community service and restitution.

For property valued between $500 and $2,000, any air traffic device, or any airport or landing facility, the offender may face a 4th degree charge. For this charge, he or she may face penalties that include restitution and up to 18 months in jail.

For damage valued at more than $2,000 or to a grave, a crypt, a public utility property, or a research facility, an offender may face a 3rd degree crime. For this, he or she may face three to five years in prison.

Criminal Defense Attorneys in New Jersey

Criminal mischief might seem minor, but a conviction of this offense can lead to serious criminal penalties that can follow you for the rest of your life. If you are facing this type of charge, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend your case. Contact Lansing & Hannum, LLC today to schedule your legal consultation with our firm. We proudly serve clients in Monmouth, Mercer, Middlesex, Burlington, and Ocean counties.

Recommended Posts