Criminal Damage / Criminal Mischief

Criminal damage and criminal mischief are the most often used legal terms to describe the damage or destruction of property. These criminal charges often apply to acts motivated by revenge and even pranks. But any criminal offense is no joke.

Perhaps you were angry about something and let your emotions get the best of you. Criminal mischief charges are often an element of a domestic situation where tempers flare, and things get broken. Maybe the damage was unintentional and you didn’t realize what had happened until it was too late.

Of course, you may be completely innocent of the charges against you. It could be a case of mistaken identity or false accusation.  Whatever happened, you are going to need help from a defense attorney in sorting this out, and getting a fair result in any criminal case.

When it comes to criminal charges like these, there’s no substitute for consulting with a local defense attorney. Contact us today to get the specifics on the charges against you and how they might be handled in your local court system.

Criminal Mischief Laws

What is criminal mischief? The offense of criminal damage or mischief is categorized by property damage. This can be accomplished in many ways including:

  • Graffiti
  • Complete destruction
  • Altering property
  • Tampering with public utilities
  • Defacement of property

In some states, graffiti is a separate misdemeanor offense not included under the criminal mischief heading.

Criminal Mischief Penalties

In most states, the crime of criminal mischief is classified by the damage inflicted. Obviously if you destroy someone’s home in a fit of rage, you stand to face a tougher penalty than if you break a windshield. The damage is evaluated by the cost of repair or replacement.

The most damaging acts of criminal mischief can carry felony penalties. This means that you could potentially spend years in prison for property damage.

In Arizona, for example, you can spend up to 2 ½ years in prison for an offense that does more than $10,000, a class 4 felony. However, a similar California malicious mischief offense has a maximum penalty of 1 year in prison..

Arson Laws and Penalties

Perhaps the most serious property damage offense is that of arson. This crime is punished very harshly because the potential for destruction and injury is so great. Fires are difficult to control and their mere management puts people at risk.

The property burned affects the charge and potential penalty you will face. For instance, burning a home is a far more serious offense than burning an unoccupied structure.

In most cases, however, arson is a felony charge carrying the potential for many years behind bars.

Whether you are facing charges of vandalism, criminal mischief, or arson, our network of attorneys can help. Contact us today and we can put you in touch with a local attorney that can assist you.