Criminal Mischief

What Does It Mean To Be Charged With Criminal Mischief?

“Criminal mischief” is a common charge, but what exactly does it mean? Graffiti is criminal mischief. Tampering with a grave is criminal mischief. Messing with a water main is criminal mischief. What do all of these have in common, and what are the penalties? Fortunately, a New Jersey attorney such as Leon Matchin can help you work through the charges and hopefully get them dismissed or downgraded. Read on for more information about a criminal mischief charge.

What is Criminal Mischief?

The state of New Jersey gives a very specific definition of criminal mischief. N.J.SA. 2C:17-3 states that criminal mischief is “purposely or knowingly damaging tangible property of another or if a defendant purposely or recklessly – conscious disregard of a substantial risk of danger to the other person or property – tampers with another person’s tangible – physical/real – property so as to endanger the person or property.” 

What are the Associated Penalties?

When it comes to a criminal mischief charge, the penalties are based on the value of the damaged property. If the damages not substantial or significant (less than $500) then the charges are dropped to a disorderly person offense and the person is exposed to up to six months of jail time as well as fines and fees. Fees are paid to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund.

In addition, if the amount of loss was between $500 and $2,000, or if an air traffic device was tampered with, the penalty is possible jail time of up to 18 months. This is a fourth-degree crime. The highest level of charges come with damages of over $2,000. This includes things like damaging property at a research facility or damaging a grave. This level of criminal mischief results in 3-5 years in jail and a charge of a third-degree criminal defense. 

Finding A New Jersey Attorney to Fight Your Criminal Mischief Charge

At first, a criminal mischief charge may seem scary and overwhelming. The defendant may worry about their criminal record and how this charge will affect their future schooling or career. Because of this, if you or someone you know is charged with criminal mischief, call a New Jersey attorney such as Leon Matchin ASAP. He will help you to understand your charges and the potential penalties. Leon Matchin is an expert attorney who has been practicing for many years. He will closely analyze your case and will also work to get the charges downgraded or dismissed. Call Leon Matchin at (833) 732-7320 or contact him via email at for more information about criminal mischief charges.

Let’s connect!

Fill out the form on the right and get in touch with us.

Free Consultation

Free Consultation