As long as people have had private property, criminal mischief has been an issue. Any time someone damages property without the owner’s approval, criminal mischief has occurred. Depending on the jurisdiction, the offense is sometimes referred to as vandalism, malicious mischief or property damage. Click Here for some additional information on criminal mischief and its penalties, as well as insight into the role of a Criminal Law Firm in Chandler AZ.
Damage Without Possession
Criminal mischief is said to occur whenever a person’s property is damaged without their consent. The severity of the damage is largely irrelevant; it’s the damage itself that is the main issue. Criminal mischief is not the taking of another person’s property, only defacing, breaking or damaging it without permission from the owner.
Criminal mischief is not an accidental act, and the law requires that property damage is intentional. For instance, if a ball goes through a window during a baseball game, criminal mischief has not occurred. Conversely, if someone intentionally hits baseballs toward a neighbor’s home and damage occurs, it is a crime. The actor’s intent does not matter here; all that’s important is that the person took actions they knew would result in damage to someone else’s property.
Criminal mischief involves a variety of activities, from graffiti to removal of boundary markers. In some areas, criminal mischief encompasses actions like setting off smoke bombs or interfering with someone’s use of the phone or Internet.
In some cases, reckless acts can lead to criminal mischief charges. Reckless acts are by definition intentional, as they are committed with a disregard for consequences. For example, use of fire, explosives and other methods without thinking of the potential for property damage can substantiate charges of criminal mischief.
These offenses can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, which can lead to prison sentences of a year or more. Those committing criminal mischief may be incarcerated for anywhere from 30 days to five years or longer. Fines are another common penalty, and most first-time offenders are given fines in lieu of jail time.
Criminal mischief can seem like a minor offense, especially if it does not involve severe damage. However, even misdemeanor convictions can have lifelong effects. Only a Criminal Law Firm in Chandler AZ like The law firm of Janet R. Feeley L.L.C. can offer legal advice specific to a case.