Central Florida Criminal Mischief Attorney
Criminal Mischief is defined by Florida Statute 806.13. It is the willful and malicious damaging of property of another. These cases often involve acts of graffiti, breaking windows, damaging vehicles or buildings, or any type of vandalism.
For the behavior to be considered “willful,” it has to be known that the person had purpose and intention in committing the crime. For actions relating to “malicious,” it means the crime must have been committed with intention and with the understanding that said actions would cause destruction to another person’s property.
Criminal mischief is an enhanceable offense based upon the amount of property damage caused if there is a prior conviction for the same offense, or the property damaged is a place of worship. The penalties for this offense are enhanced as follows:
- If the damage to property is $200 or less, it is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail or 6 months of probation, and/or a $500 fine.
- If the damage is greater than $200 but less than $1,000, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail or 1 year of probation, and/or a $1,000 fine.
- If the damage is $1,000 or greater, there is a prior conviction of criminal mischief, or the damage is to a place of worship, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by 5 years of prison or 5 years of probation, and/or a $5,000 fine.
In addition to jail, probation, and fines, the offender may be ordered to pay restitution. Any person convicted as a result of the placement of graffiti shall be required to perform at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, perform at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti, according to Florida Statute 806.13(6)(b).
There are a number of defenses to criminal mischief, in addition to the trial defenses. Some of the most common defenses are:
- Pre-existing damages, thus they were not caused by the Defendant
- The alleged victim does not own the vandalized property
- The damages caused were necessary in order to protect self or another person
- The damages were caused to marital property
- The damages were accidental
Florida courts have ruled that unless there is destruction to the property of another person, criminal mischief cannot be established.
Here at Gans Law, our Central Florida attorneys have experience with criminal mischief cases in both the juvenile and adult courts. If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Criminal Mischief, contact us today for a free consultation.