“Criminal mischief” is the term used in Florida law for vandalism and other acts that result in property damage. Typically, any purposeful property damage will result in a criminal mischief charge. Even if the amount of damage was fairly low, a conviction still can result in jail time, in addition to fines and other consequences. Graffiti is especially punished harshly under Florida law. Having experienced legal counsel on your side could be the difference in your case.
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Mischief Lawyer
If you were arrested in Broward County for criminal mischief, the best decision you can make is to promptly contact a skilled attorney who will review all of your options with you. A Fort Lauderdale criminal mischief attorney from Meltzer & Bell can represent you and seek the best possible results for you.
As a former Broward County prosecutor and a former Broward County public defender who got our starts in the 17th Circuit, we understand the courts and the options available to offenders. We will work with you to ensure all options are explored. Call us today at (954) 745-7457 to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Meltzer & Bell represents clients throughout Broward County from the Fort Lauderdale office, including clients in Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Sunrise, Davie, Plantation and Wilton Manors. No matter the charge, we can help protect your future.
Information About Criminal Mischief in Florida
Criminal mischief is a property crime that is defined in Fla. Stat. §806.13 as willfully and maliciously damaging or injuring by any means any real or personal property belonging to another person. This includes acts typically referred to as “graffiti” or “vandalism.” Although the property may not be completely damaged, placing graffiti on it still could warrant the charge.
The penalties for criminal mischief in Florida vary according to the total dollar amount of the damage. If multiple pieces of property are damaged in the same action or scheme, even if they are completely different pieces of property belonging to different owners, the amounts will be combined to figure out the level of the offense.
For example, if you spray paint windows at a strip mall that all belong to different businesses, the total amount of damage to all the windows will be used to decide which level of offense you will be charged with. This could significantly increase the penalties and consequences associated with the offense.
If the amount of damage is considered to be $200 or less, criminal mischief is a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can lead to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine or both. If the amount of damage is between $200 and $1,000, criminal mischief is a first-degree misdemeanor. This can be punishable by one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.
Criminal mischief can even be charged as a felony. Criminal mischief can lead to a conviction of a third-degree felony if:
- The amount of damage is above $1,000, including situations where there is an interruption or impairment of a public service or business operation that results in over $1,000 in labor and supply costs to restore
- A pay phone or other public phone is damaged, or the phone is opened or rendered inoperable. To be convicted based on this criteria, a notice of this law with these penalties must be posted and visible to the public at the location and time the damage was done.
- More than $200 in damage is done to a church or other place of worship or any religious article inside it.
- A sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility is damaged.
If convicted of criminal mischief as a third-degree felony, a conviction can lead to five years of prison, a $5,000 fine or both. The fines come in addition to any restitution for damage that may be ordered by a court. In some instances, a person could be ordered to pay back the full amount of damage.
Florida has enacted enhanced punishments for any acts of criminal mischief that involve graffiti. In addition to the normal penalties, a conviction for criminal mischief resulting from graffiti will include an extra requirement of at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, the requirement to perform at least 100 hours of community service removing graffiti.
An additional mandatory minimum fine could be added. Possible fines include:
- $250 for a first conviction
- $500 for a second conviction
- $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction
If a juvenile under age 18 is found delinquent due to criminal mischief involving graffiti, additional penalties come into effect. This could include:
- Any parent or guardian of the juvenile can be held responsible to pay the fine;
- If the juvenile is eligible for a driver’s license, the license will be suspended for one year, although the license can be restored sooner if the juvenile performs community service; and
- If the juvenile is not ineligible to drive due to age or a prior license suspension, the juvenile must wait an additional year from the date he or she would otherwise be able to get a driver’s license, although this time period can also be reduced by performing community service.
Finding the Best Criminal Mischief Defense Attorney in Broward County
If you have been arrested and charged with this offense in South Florida, you should immediately seek legal representation who will fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer at Meltzer & Bell to begin building a strong defense to the charges.
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell have more than two decades of combined experience handling these types of cases on both sides of the aisle. They are skilled in fighting convictions and they understand what defensive strategies are the most effective against these charges.
Meltzer & Bell represents clients throughout the Broward County area, including those in Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Coral Springs, Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Plantation, Davie, Sunrise, Weston and Wilton Manors. Let the firm review your case by calling (954) 745-7457 today to take advantage of a free consultation. The partners are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.