Criminal mischief is something we might usually associate with teens. It’s along the lines of vandalism and other charges related to property damage and mischief. In many cases, the mischief occurs on somebody else’s property or public property. This isn’t a charge we would usually associate with possession of another person’s property. Criminal mischief is usually reserved for when another person willfully damages property, whether it’s public or private.Other Names for Criminal Mischief
- Malicious mischief
- Damage to property
The term “mischief” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For all intents and purposes, mischief is criminal when damage occurred and where there was malice or criminal intent to do so. This is why you can’t really be held criminally responsible for accidentally damaging somebody’s property. Sure, you can be held accountable in other ways, but you’re probably not going to go to jail for accidentally damaging your neighbor’s fence or something like that, in most cases, at least. The two main elements of a criminal mischief charge are damage and intent. Can the prosecutor prove that you willfully or maliciously destroyed or damaged somebody else’s property?
Two Elements of Criminal Mischief
- Damage- Did monetary damage occur to somebody else’s property?
- Intent- Did you willfully or maliciously intend to damage that person’s property?
The amount of damage sustained will typically determine the severity of penalties you’re facing. If only a few hundred dollars worth of damage was done, we’re not talking serious jail time, in most cases, for first-time non-violent offenders. If you took a baseball bat to somebody’s rare imported antique racecar, we could be talking a whole different story. It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your case as soon as possible.Intentional Damage
Intentional damage is the bedrock in any prosecutor’s criminal mischief case, so it’s important to make sure your lawyer knows all details of your unique situation. Every case is different, and if you didn’t mean to damage another person’s property, you should be convicted of this crime. Damage alone is not enough to convict, in most cases. If you or somebody you love is facing criminal mischief charges, you need to speak with an experienced and proven criminal defense attorney to get started on your defense as swiftly as possible.Defenses to Criminal Mischief
The key to a criminal mischief defense is getting to the bottom of how the damage occurred. In a lot of cases, there is a good faith excuse or reason why the damage occurred. This means, that although you may have intentionally damaged something, it was done for a good reason. There could be a variety of different justifications for mischief. With all hope, your lawyer should be able to sort your case out for the best possible outcome. Nobody deserves to go to jail because of either a misunderstanding or miscarriage of justice. If there’s a good reason why damage occurred, let your lawyer know. Were you protecting somebody or trying to assist somebody in danger? These are important facts that can aid in your defense.Negligent? Perhaps, But Not Criminal
In a lot of criminal mischief cases, we find that while certain actions could possibly be considered negligent, at best, they are certainly not criminal. You need a lawyer who understands both sides of the justice system, criminal and civil. Where property damage occurs, it’s absolutely essential that simply negligent actors don’t get slapped with a criminal record when it’s not called for. Depending upon the dollar-amount of damage done, you could be facing jail time, heft fines, probation and even restitution if convicted. Additionally, you will have a criminal record that makes life much harder than it has to be.Potential Penalties
- Jail time
- Hefty fines
If you or somebody you love is facing criminal mischief charges, you need to speak with a proven criminal defense attorney about your case. Even if the monetary damage seems minor and you’re only facing misdemeanor charges, you need to speak with an experienced defense lawyer. Even first-time, non-violent offenders can do time or have hefty fines to deal with after a conviction, so be proactive about your defense and your future. Contact a criminal defense lawyer with the experience to back their claims.
For an immediate consultation with the skilled lawyers at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, call (601) 948-1600.