Florida Criminal Mischief Laws
The word “mischief” sometimes carries the connotation of harmless fun, such as the exchange of joke gifts or piling up pennies from floor to ceiling outside the dorm room of the student who usually sleeps in late enough for his neighbors to be able to pull off such a stunt. In the context of criminal mischief, though, the law considers it anything but harmless. Florida’s definition of criminal mischief includes actions commonly known as vandalism. You can face charges for criminal mischief if you intentionally damage or destroy another person’s property, whether by writing graffiti on it or by some other means. The penalties for criminal mischief vary according to the dollar amount of property damage, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and other factors. If you plead guilty to criminal mischief or get convicted at trial, the consequences could be as minor as community service, as major as prison, or anything in between. If you are being accused of criminal mischief, contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer.
Penalties for Criminal Mischief
The grading of a criminal mischief charge depends on the value of the defaced property, as follows:
- Criminal mischief is a second-degree misdemeanor if the value of the destroyed property is $200 or less.
- It is a first-degree misdemeanor if the property damage is valued between $200 and $1,000.
- It is a third-degree felony if the property damage exceeds $1,000 or if it causes the interruption of business operations or public services. It is also a third-degree felony if the damaged property belongs to a house of worship, such as a church, mosque, or synagogue.
If you get convicted for criminal mischief, the court might order you to pay a fine. The fine for a first offense is $250. It increases to $500 for a second conviction and $1,000 for all subsequent convictions. Many sentences for criminal mischief convictions also involve community service; the number of hours can range for 40 to 100. Most community service assignments require convicted defendants to engage in work that undoes the kind of harm they caused with their crimes, so community service for a criminal mischief conviction typically involves removing graffiti or otherwise cleaning or repairing damaged property.
Fines and community service are far from the worst-case scenario that can happen in criminal court, but do not assume that criminal mischief charges are no big deal. The conviction stays on your record permanently, except in extraordinary circumstances, and it can make future encounters with the criminal justice system worse. Therefore, you should take all criminal charges seriously and have a criminal defense lawyer represent you so that you can fight the charges or seek a plea deal.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
You can get into serious legal trouble for writing graffiti or intentionally defacing public property. A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for property crimes such as vandalism or criminal mischief. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.