Criminal mischief is defined differently in every state of the U.S., however most definitions of the crime are quite similar. Typically, criminal mischief involves using the property of an individual other than the defendant, especially if any damage is inflicted by the defendant on that property. Defacement, vandalism, or destruction of private or public property by an individual with any criminal intent is the most commonly used definition for criminal mischief in jurisdictions across the United States. If you have been accused of any of these crimes, it is important you understand criminal mischief & common penalties associated with the crime.
Varying Penalties for Varying Degrees
Generally speaking, each jurisdiction has 4 different degrees to define the severity of the criminal mischief an individual may be charged with. Each degree of severity is considered a different classification of crime, ranging from misdemeanor to felony.
- Criminal mischief in the 4th degree is charged when an individual, without any right nor grounds to assume he or she has the right, intentionally damages or participates in the damaging or destruction of a vacant or abandoned building, or intentionally causes the damage of another person’s private property but the damage does not exceed $250 dollars in value. A 4th degree criminal mischief charge is considered a class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,200.
- Criminal mischief in the 3rd degree involves similar terms to the 4th degree conviction, however the value of the damage incurred for a 3rd degree criminal mischief charge exceeds $250 but remains under $1,500. A 3rd degree criminal mischief conviction is a class E felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Criminal mischief in the 2nd degree is charged when any or all of the above criteria are met, but the individual found guilty of the crime has damaged a property he or she does not own and the amount of value assessed to the damage exceeds $1,500. 2nd degree criminal mischief is classified as a class D felony, and may result in a sentence of 2 to 7 years in prison, and a citation of up to $5,000.
- 1st degree criminal mischief convictions occur when the damage to another person’s property is caused by an individual, regardless of the monetary value assessed to the damage, by the use of any type of explosive device. This offense is considered a class B felony, which escalates the severity of the penalty drastically. The sentence possible for a class B felony conviction is imprisonment for up to 60 years and a fine of up to $50,000.
If you are facing criminal mischief charges, you need to get help. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you understand what penalties you may face and can assist you in building a defense or making a decision on how to handle these charges.