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Criminal Mischief

Tallahassee Theft attorney

When a person is accused of causing damage to another person’s property, they can be charged with criminal mischief. Also known as vandalism, this type of crime can include acts such as painting graffiti onto a public building, throwing a brick into someone else’s window, or even breaking a historical monument. Sometimes, people act out of frustration or anger to damage another person’s property. In other instances, a person may be falsely accused of vandalism.

Whatever the incident was, it is important to note that getting convicted of a criminal mischief offense is not ideal. You will be required to pay fines, face incarceration, and potentially pay back the damages caused in the alleged crime. Considering this is a crime common among teenagers and young people, we want to stress that these charges should not be taken lightly.

Even if you have already been formally charged with criminal mischief in Florida, you can prioritize finding a defense attorney experienced in vandalism and other property crimes to help you navigate the legal nuances that come with fighting a conviction.

Tallahassee Criminal Mischief Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with criminal mischief in North Florida, contact a Tallahassee criminal mischief defense attorney at Pumphrey Law Firm. Our defense attorneys will examine the evidence in your case and work with you to combat a criminal conviction. Our goal is to protect your rights and fight for your future.

Our firm represents clients charged with a variety of property crimes throughout Tallahassee, Leon County, and the greater Florida panhandle region. No matter the charge, your case is important to Pumphrey Law. Call (850) 681-7777 to discuss your case during a free consultation.

Information on Criminal Mischief Charges in North Florida

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Criminal Mischief in Florida

The offense of criminal mischief is defined under Florida Statute Section 806.13 as when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages any real or personal property by any means.

The following provides several examples of actions that may be considered and charged as criminal mischief in Florida:

  • A group of teenagers decide to spray graffiti (unauthorized writing or drawings) on the surface of a public building;
  • An ex-employee trashes the real estate property of their former company;
  • A spiteful ex-boyfriend uses a baseball bat to destroy the mailbox of a previous partner;
  • A group of individuals deface a monument or statue of a historical figure; or
  • A person causes damage to another person’s vehicle by putting chemical in the gas tank or on the paint.

Elements to Prove Criminal Mischief

Based on the Criminal Jury Instructions provided by the Florida Bar Association, the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction:

  1. The defendant injured or damaged real or personal property;
  2. The property injured or damaged belonged to the victim, or person who alleged the crime; and
  3. The injury or damage to the property was done willfully and maliciously.

Important: Among how the property can be damaged or injured under Florida law is the placement of graffiti or other acts of vandalism to it.

Criminal Mischief Penalties

The penalties for criminal mischief in Florida are determined by the amount of damage caused to the property.

If the damage to such property is $200 or less, the crime is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. If convicted the defendant faces up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

If the damage to such property is more than $200 but less than $1,000, the crime is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted the defendant faces up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.

If the damage to such property is worth $1,000 or more, the crime is considered a third-degree felony. If convicted the defendant faces up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

A defendant who has had one or more prior convictions for criminal mischief will be charged with a third-degree felony, regardless of the amount of property injured or damaged.

Penalties for Vandalism in Certain Places

The criminal mischief statute provides the penalties for vandalism that is caused in specified areas of Florida. A person who causes criminal mischief at any of the following places faces a third-degree felony:

  • Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, or any religious article within such place, if the damage to property is more than $200;
  • Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or otherwise damages by any means a memorial or historical property and the value of damage to the property is more than $200;
  • Any person who willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility or any property therein, if the damage to the property is more than $200; or
  • Any person who willfully destroys or substantially damages any public telephone, telephone cables, wires, fixtures, antennas, amplifiers, or any other apparatus, equipment, or appliances, in which the destruction or damage renders a public telephone inoperative.

Contact a defense attorney in Leon County to discuss the charges against you and the details of the alleged incident during a free consultation.

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Additional Penalties for Criminal Mischief Conviction in Tallahassee

In addition to the statue-specific fines and sentencing, a defendant who is convicted of criminal mischief may also be sentenced to complete the following requirements:

  • Defendant may face between 40 – 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti or other form of vandalism;
  • The court may impose a one-year driver’s license revocation for any minor found to have committed a delinquent act of criminal mischief for placing graffiti on any public property or private property;
  • For juveniles charged with criminal mischief, either themselves or their parent or legal guardian can be held liable for payment of fines; or
  • Pay restitution for the damages or injury to such property. If the alleged criminal mischief is an act of graffiti, then the fines are as follows:
    • First conviction: No less than $250;
    • Second conviction: No less than $500; and
    • Third or subsequent conviction: No less than $1,000.

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Defenses to Criminal Mischief

A person accused of vandalism or damaging the property belonging to another person faces harsh penalties. However, it is always important to establish that there are different avenues of defense. When you choose to hire an experienced defense attorney, they can help determine if the following defenses apply to your case:

  • Lack of intent – To prosecute a defendant for criminal mischief, the State must be able to prove that the crime occurred willfully and maliciously. A defendant who caused damage or injury merely out of accident may be able to use this as a defense.
  • Joint ownership of property – If the defendant and the alleged victim own the property in a joint-ownership, a defense attorney can apply this as a defense strategy to get the charge dropped or lessened.
  • Mistaken identity – If a witness or property owner accused the defendant, but had mistaken them for someone else, the charges could be dropped.
  • Resulted from altercation – If the damage arose out of an altercation rather than from willful behavior, then a defense attorney can work to get the charges lessened or dropped.

Contact the experienced defense attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm to receive a free consultation to go over the charges against you.

Finding A Criminal Mischief Defense Lawyer in Leon County

If you or a loved one has recently been charged with criminal mischief, you should consider reaching out to a defense attorney in your area. The consequences of a conviction can weigh on your future heavily. As this is an offense often committed by teenagers, it is important to address that the implications of a guilty verdict in juvenile court could create difficulties in finding a job or being accepted into college.

Contact the team of experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys with Pumphrey Law Firm. Our defense attorneys are prepared to represent and fight for you at every stage of the case. Call (850) 681-7777 to speak directly to an attorney about the charges you face and the best defense you can build. Contact us today and schedule your free legal consultation.

Page Updated March 6, 2024

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