What Are Criminal Mischief Charges?


Under criminal law, criminal mischief normally pertains to the destruction of another person’s personal property with known intent, but it can be more complicated than that. In fact, the definition and punishment may differ from state to state. Generally, criminal mischief includes crimes such as vandalism, graffiti, or defacing a business or property. It can also contain reckless acts as well.

Criminal Mischief Varies by State

Each state and each jurisdiction treat the charge of criminal mischief differently. If you find yourself charged with criminal mischief, it is in your best interest to seek an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you understand what the charges are and what to expect.

What Is Considered Criminal Mischief?

Though criminal mischief is defined differently by state, the charge does have similarities in each area. Consider the following types of crimes that have been charged as criminal mischief against defendants across the country:

  • Graffiti on another’s property, business or vehicle.
  • Recklessly damaging another’s personal property, such as breaking a car window with known intent.
  • Tampering with public property, like a fire hydrant or fire alarm.
  • Hacking another person’s computer with criminal intent or uploading a virus onto their computer.
  • Vandalizing cars or personal property, destroying a garden area, or damaging a mailbox

Proving Intent

If someone is charged with criminal mischief, it must be proven that they destroyed or tampered with private or public property knowingly and with intent. For example, if your car blew a tire and you drove off the road onto someone’s personal property and destroyed their trash cans, it would not be considered intent. However, reckless driving, might be considered criminal mischief on account of your carelessness. Again, it is important to seek legal guidance if you have been accused of criminal mischief.

What Type of Charge Is Criminal Mischief?

Depending on the state, criminal mischief can carry a misdemeanor or felony charge. It mostly depends on the dollar amount of property damage.

If convicted of criminal mischief, punishment can include hefty fines and a sentence of a year in prison or more. First time offenders may only see fines and probation. Regardless, it is best to have a good criminal defense lawyer on your side to hear your case.

Haddonfield Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Defend Those Accused of Criminal Mischief

Any criminal charge against you should be treated very seriously, including criminal mischief. A stain on your record can make your future goals a lot harder to achieve. If you have been charged or accused of criminal mischief, then contact one of our skilled Haddonfield criminal defense lawyers at Agre & St. John immediately. Our knowledgeable defense lawyers will fight for your rights and get the justice you deserve. Call us at 856-454-8674 or complete our online form to schedule a private consultation. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve the communities of South Jersey, including those in Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.

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