Most people associate the word “mischief” with children who playfully misbehave. However, did you know that many adults in New Jersey have found themselves charged with the offense of “criminal mischief”? Criminal mischief can be charged for a variety of acts that involve damaging or threatening another person’s property and the law sets out harsh potential penalties for this offense. One minute you may be involved in drunken antics and the next, you may be in handcuffs facing a court case.
What is Criminal Mischief?
Under New Jersey law, a prosecutor can issue criminal mischief charges if they believe you did any of the following:
- Interfered with another person’s property in a manner that put the property in danger
- You acted recklessly or negligently and damaged another person’s property, or
- You acted intentionally and damaged another person’s property.
Commonly, criminal mischief charges stem from acts of trespassing and/or vandalism. The offense can be charged as either disorderly persons offense, which would be handled in municipal court, or as a criminal offense, which is handled in superior court. However, it is important to realize that even a disorderly persons offense can carry serious and costly penalties.
The potential penalties associated with a criminal mischief conviction vary, depending mostly on the amount of damage that was allegedly caused. It can also vary based on the type of property that was damaged. The following is some information regarding the possible charges and penalties:
- Disorderly persons offense = If the damage caused is worth less than $500, you may face up to six months of time in jail.
- Fourth Degree Crime = This can apply if the damage caused is worth $500 to $2000 or if the offense involved tampering with air traffic control signals, signs, or lights. This carries a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment.
- Third Degree Crime = This can apply if the damage caused was worth more than $2000 and if the offense involved any personal or state property. This offense includes defacing property in graveyards. A conviction could mean three to five years of imprisonment.
Call 732-662-7658 today for a free consultation.
While criminal mischief may sound like a minor issue, you can face serious consequences if you are charged. You need an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer handling your case. Please call the Law Offices of Leon Matchin to discuss your situation and how we can help you today.