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Criminal Mischief

What is Criminal Mischief?

Flemington Criminal Mischief LawyerFlemington Criminal Mischief Lawyer

In New Jersey, the crime of criminal mischief is also commonly known as vandalism. It is unlawful to purposely or knowingly damage another’s property. If you are reckless or negligent in starting and handling a fire, then you can also be convicted of criminal mischief if the fire damages another person’s property. The level of seriousness and punishment for a charge of criminal mischief is generally determined by the level of monetary damage or loss caused by the alleged acts of vandalism. Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the damage caused is valued at $2,000 or more. It is a crime of the fourth degree if the damage caused is valued between $500 and $2,000. If the damage alleged to have been caused is valued at less than $500, then a criminal mischief charge would be considered a disorderly person’s offense. Regardless of the degree, criminal mischief is a serious criminal charge in New Jersey. If you are facing a charge of criminal mischief, then it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Are the Possible Punishments for Criminal Mischief?

  • The main possible punishments for a conviction of criminal mischief include:
  • Jail/Prison: A conviction for criminal mischief can result in a jail or prison sentence depending on the degree of crime it is. A fourth-degree criminal mischief conviction can result in up to 18 months in prison, while a third-degree conviction for criminal mischief can carry a prison term between three to five years.
  • Probation: You may be given the opportunity to be sentenced to probation if you are convicted of criminal mischief. Probation is an alternative to jail, and you will be required to follow a list of conditions. If you fail to follow the conditions, then you can be sentenced to jail or prison for the violation.
  • Restitution: Restitution is often an important factor in criminal mischief cases as the main cause of the charge is the allegation that property was defaced or damaged in some way. A judge will order the costs of repair or cleaning to be paid by the defendant if convicted.
  • Fines: Anyone convicted of criminal mischief as a disorderly person can face a fine of up to $1,000, while a conviction for third-degree criminal mischief can result in fines of up to $15,000.
  • Other: You can also be sentenced to community service and can lose a professional license if you are convicted of criminal mischief.

What Are Some Examples of Criminal Mischief?

Under New Jersey law, some common examples of criminal mischief include:

  • Graffiti
  • Tampering with a grave
  • Tampering with gas
  • Tampering with a crypt
  • Tampering with oil or water lines

This is just a partial list of examples of what can be charged as acts of criminal mischief in New Jersey. Any vandalization of another’s property can lead to a criminal mischief charge. There is a wide range of acts that can be considered criminal mischief. It is important to know which act may apply to your circumstances, and how to defend yourself if you are criminally charged.

What Are the Possible Defenses?

In a criminal mischief case, a prosecutor has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you either knowingly or purposely vandalized another’s property, and must prove the value of the damage caused. Mere presence is not a crime, so if you were just there and did not actually do anything illegal, then that can be a viable defense to a charge of criminal mischief. Is there an issue with the valuation of the damage? Were you even there when the crimes are alleged to have occurred? Do you have an alibi? These are just some of the questions any seasoned criminal defense attorney will ask when formulating the most effective defense against a charge of criminal mischief.

Why Forrester Law Stands Above the Rest in Criminal Defense

Attorney Amber Forrester has been certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a certified criminal trial attorney, a distinction less than 2% of attorneys achieve. Less than 250 of the over 80,000 lawyers in New Jersey share this certification with Ms. Forrester. In over a dozen years as a criminal defense attorney, she has represented thousands of people, with many facing serious potential consequences. Ms. Forrester’s skills, experience, and reputation are evident in the results she consistently achieves for her clients. You have a choice in who represents you, make sure you make the right choice with a call to Forrester Law.

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