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Criminal Mischief

Even though the term “mischief” is used to describe the crime, criminal mischief charges are nothing to take lightly. A conviction of criminal mischief has serious consequences including steep fines and possible incarceration. In some cases, a criminal mischief charge can even be enhanced to a felony-level crime.

Most associate criminal mischief with vandalism, but the offense encompasses all type so willful and malicious destruction of another person’s property. Criminal mischief is also commonly associated with juveniles, but that isn’t always the case. Every year numerous people over the age of 18 are charged with criminal mischief. If you or someone you know has been arrested for criminal mischief, then it’s imperative you seek an experienced defense lawyer to assist you.

Defense Lawyer for Criminal Mischief in Fort Lauderdale, FL

If you or your child has been arrested for an alleged criminal mischief offense, then it’s within your best interest to gain knowledgeable legal assistance. Meltzer & Bell has years of experience in both trial court and juvenile trial court. With our skills, resources and experience we will apply any strategy needed to fight your allegations.

Don’t wait another moment to defend yourself and your future. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell can be reached at (954) 765-6585. Call today and set up your first consultation free of charge. Meltzer & Bell has clients throughout the greater Broward County area including Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, Davie, and Fort Lauderdale.

Overview of Criminal Mischief Offenses in FL

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Criminal Mischief Laws in Florida

Often people associate criminal mischief with harmless acts of vandalism such as graffiti or “toilet papering” a house. Under Florida Statutes Section 806.13, it states a person is guilty of criminal mischief if they willfully or maliciously injure or damage real or personal property belonging to another person. Criminal mischief offenses are classified based on how much damage was caused by the offender.

If the damage to the property in question is as follows, the crime is classified as:

  • $200 or less — Second-degree misdemeanor;
  • Greater than $200 but less than $1,000 — First-degree misdemeanor; or
  • $1,000 or greater —Third-degree felony.

A criminal mischief charge can be classified as a third-degree felony if the offender has been previously convicted of criminal mischief or if the crime included any of the following:

  • The crime causes an interruption or impairment of a business operation or public communication, gas or power, supply of water, transportation or other public service which costs $1,000 or more in supplies or labor to reinstate;
  • Maliciously deface, injury or damage a church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship if the damage is more than $250. This does include buildings where an religious article is contained therein;
  • Willfully destroy or substantially damage a public telephone, telephone cables, fixtures, antennas, amplifiers, or any apparatus or equipment that renders a telephone inoperative or which opens the body of a public telephone; and
  • Maliciously and willfully injure, deface or damage a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility

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What are the Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Florida?

It’s a common misconception that criminal mischief is a minor charge with little to no consequences. The penalties for criminal mischief are nothing to scoff at. The punishment depends on the classification of the criminal mischief crime, the facts of the case as well as the offender’s past criminal record.  Listed below are the penalties for criminal mischief in Florida.

  • A second-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction will result in:
    • Up to 60 days in jail; and
    • A possible fine of up to $500
  • A first-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction will result in:
    • Up to 12 months in jail; and
    • A possible fine of up to $1,000
  • A third-degree felony criminal mischief conviction will result in:
    • Up to 5 years in prison; and
    • A possible fine of up to $5,000

If the charge was related to graffiti, then the offender may be required to perform up to 40 hours of community service as an additional condition to their sentencing. If possible, the court may order the offender up to 100 hours of community service to remove the graffiti.  In addition, a graffiti-related criminal mischief conviction is subject to the following minimum fines established under Florida Statutes Section 806.13(6)(a).

  • No less than $250 for a first conviction;
  • No less than $500 for a second conviction; or
  • No less than $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction

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Additional Resources

Valdes v. State, 510 So.2d 631, 632 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987) — In this case, read about how the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed Arnaldo Valdes’ conviction for criminal mischief. The Court of Appeal noted that the value of the property damage was not “an essential element of the crime,” and once it is established that a defendant damaged another party’s property, the value of the property damage is relevant only for the severity of the crime. The Court of Appeals, however, in the end did reverse Valdes’ concurrent sentence of three years’ imprisonment because the jury did not find that the value of the property damage exceeded $200.

Chapter 12 | Florida Standard Jury Instructions — Visit the official website for the Florida Jury Instructions to learn more about the three elements the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt as well as key definitions and lesser included offenses. Access the instructions to learn more about a criminal mischief charge, the penalties and other important information.

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Criminal Mischief Attorneys in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief, it’s time you gain trusted legal counsel today. Meltzer & Bell are a group of passionate criminal defense attorneys who aggressively defend their clients accused of crimes throughout the greater Broward County area. Hire an attorney at Meltzer & Bell to start setting up an effective and efficient defense for your charges today.

Meltzer & Bell will overlook your case and begin charting out your defense plan as soon as possible. Meltzer & Bell can be contacted at (954) 765-6585 where you can set up your first consultation free of charge. The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell accepts clients throughout the Fort Lauderdale area including Pompano Beach, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood and Davie.

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