Under New York law, criminal mischief is a property damage offense. But this doesn’t mean it’s not a serious crime. Anytime a criminal offense carries the potential for jail or prison time, it should be taken seriously. Whether you’re accused of vandalism or destruction of property, a criminal mischief conviction can carry long term repercussions and consequences you no doubt want to avoid.
Generally, criminal mischief is defined as the damage or destruction of someone else’s property. It’s easy to see with such a broad definition, how this offense could apply to many different situations. But whether your actions were planned or something you did in a fit of anger, the penalties are often the same.Charged with a crime in New York? Please call (888) 435-4744.
When it comes time to go to court and defend yourself against New York criminal mischief charges, all hope is not lost. A criminal defense attorney can help advocate for your best interests—ensuring the court hears your side of the story and working to get you the best results possible.
Plea agreements are often appropriate in criminal mischief cases. Depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history, there’s even a chance we could get the charges reduced. When it comes to getting you good results, your attorney should leave no stone unturned in your defense. The prosecution must prove that you had specific intent to commit the offense and that you had no right to damage the property in question; your defense lawyer will do their best to ensure this burden is not met.
New York Criminal Mischief – Laws and Penalties
The offense of criminal mischief is classified by seriousness into four different degrees.
Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree
The least serious of all criminal mischief charges, fourth degree criminal mischief applies when it’s believed you:
- Intentionally damaged someone else’s property,
- Intentionally took part in the destruction of an abandoned building, or
- Recklessly damaged another person’s property resulting in damage valued at more than $250.
Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is considered a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail.
Ref: NY State Law 145.00
Criminal Mischief in the 3rd Degree
Third degree Criminal Mischief typically applies when the defendant damages someone else’s property and that damage is valued at more than $250. However, it can also apply when you damage someone’s locked vehicle by breaking into it with the intent of stealing property and if you have three or more criminal mischief convictions on your record within the past three years.
Criminal mischief in the 3rd degree is considered a Class E Non-Violent Felony and carries a potential maximum penalty of up to 4 years in prison.
Ref: NY State Law 145.05
Criminal Mischief in the 2nd Degree
Second degree criminal mischief is simply defined a damaging the property of another where the value exceeds $1,500. This is considered a Class D Non-Violent felony and carries a maximum potential sentence of 7 years in prison.
Ref: NY State Law 145.10
Criminal Mischief in the 1st Degree
The most serious of all criminal mischief charges, criminal mischief in the first degree is defined as damaging the property of another by means of an explosive. The amount of damage does not matter, only the means. This is considered a Class B Non-Violent Felony, whose maximum potential penalty is up to 25 years in prison.
Ref: NY State Law 145.12
Free Consultation on a New York Criminal Mischief Offense
Any criminal charge is a serious criminal charge. Prison time, fines, and the lasting effects of having a criminal record are consequences to be avoided at all costs. If you are charged with criminal mischief, contact our offices today for a free consultation.