There is a New York Penal Law created to punish individuals who damage a person’s property. It is known as criminal mischief. When someone damages the property of another person without a property owner’s permission, they have committed criminal mischief. This is often designated as vandalism.
Criminal Mischief Offenses
According to the New York Criminal Code, the amount of damage done to a person’s property does not matter. It could involve participation in the destruction of an abandoned building. Criminal mischief could also involve auto stripping, making Graffiti, possessing a Graffiti instrument, burglary and more.
Crime Of Lesser Degree
In many cases, a charge of criminal mischief could be a crime of lesser degree when combined with a more serious charge. It could involve a person keying another person’s vehicle after assaulting them. A person could empty trash in a neighbor’s yard and then start a fire that burns a house. A charge of criminal mischief can be categorized by its severity. These categories change based on the degree of severity. They will determine if a person’s offense is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
There are four different levels of criminal mischief charges in New York.
*Fourth Degree Criminal Mischief is a Class A Misdemeanor. The minimum punishment required is an alternative sentence if extenuating circumstances are involved. This is a situation where a person can avoid being incarcerated. The maximum punishment for this offense is twelve months in jail. This is charged when a person intentionally damages the property of another causing any amount of damage.
*Third Degree Criminal Mischief is a Class E Felony. The minimum punishment with this conviction is incarceration from 1 to 3 years. The maximum punishment is incarceration for up to four years. If extenuating circumstances are involved, a judge could give an alternative sentence requiring little or no time in jail. This is charged when property damage is over $250.
*Second Degree Criminal Mischief is a Class D Felony. The minimum punishment with this conviction is incarceration from 1 to 3 years. The maximum punishment is incarceration of up to 7 years. If extenuating circumstances are involved, a judge could give an alternative sentence requiring little or no time in jail. This is charged when property damage is over $1,500.
*First Degree Criminal Mischief is a Class C Felony. The minimum punishment with this conviction is incarceration from 1 to 3 years. The maximum punishment is incarceration for up to 15 years. If extenuating circumstances are involved, a judge could give an alternative sentence requiring little or no time in jail. This is charged when a person’s property is damaged with the use of an explosive.
There is not one legal defense that fits all situations. Prosecutors will try to prove the actions of a person are what caused the damage to occur. Their actions were reckless or intentional. An experienced attorney will know how to show a person’s actions were accidental. When this happens, it can be shown a person’s actions were neither reckless or intentional. It’s possible a prosecutor can show the property was damaged but is unable to prove how the damage occurred. An attorney may be able to show their client damaged property believing they had permission from the property owner to do such a thing and more.
Civil And Criminal
In addition to the criminal allegations, it is possible for the victim of criminal mischief to file a lawsuit against the defendant. Should the damaged property be a business, a civil suit is preferred. With a civil suit, an individual or business owner will be able to request financial reimbursement for all the damage done to their property.
A charge of criminal mischief can have a significant negative impact on a person’s life. People charged with this crime need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A legal professional will be able to carefully examine the facts of a case and develop an effective legal defense. They will know how to handle a criminal charge or a civil lawsuit. What could initially appear to be very serious punishment could end up being much less. An experienced attorney will know how to get the best possible result.
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