At one time, the term “mischief” seemed fairly innocuous—kids ringing doorbells and running away, dialing random phone numbers to ask if your refrigerator is running, or—on the infamous “Mischief Night”—papering trees or egging cars. But criminal mischief is another matter entirely, and in New York, it is very serious indeed. Criminal mischief involves acts of sabotage such as keying someone’s car, breaking a light bulb, smashing a window, spraying graffiti on public or private property, slashing tires, wrecking furniture, dumping trash in someone’s yard, and committing numerous other acts of vandalism.
While criminal mischief primarily involves damage to property rather than to people, do not make the mistake of thinking the transgressions will be treated merely as pranks. Criminal mischief is a grave crime that can result in considerable fines along with prison terms as long as twenty-five years. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal mischief, you should seek the counsel of an experienced attorney at once. The Law Office of James Medows is proficient in dealing with the array of charges involved in criminal mischief and can provide you with highly competent service to make sure your case gains the most positive outcome.
Charges of criminal mischief are complex and ambiguous, and they can be difficult to fight, especially in areas such as graffiti—artistic or otherwise—where public officials have become particularly vigilant and adamant about prosecution. Even just possessing the tools for “tagging” can lead to a charge of criminal mischief. Having James to negotiate the complications and obscurities of the array of criminal mischief charges will assure you that your rights will be protected, that every aspect of the allegations will be investigated, that any accusation of intent will be irrefutably proven, and that you will have the most reliable attorney for obtaining the best possible result for your case.
The specific charge for criminal mischief depends in large part on the amount of damage incurred, which often means that an assessor must be hired to determine the expense of the destruction. These costs are indicated to some extent in the New York penal codes, which outline the three degrees of criminal mischief charges and indicate their varying punishments:
Criminal mischief in the fourth degree: This charge means that an individual deliberately damages someone’s property or an abandoned building, recklessly causes property damage in excess of $250.00, or willfully destroys or disables communication devices to prevent a person from contacting fire, police, or medical services for help. Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor that can mean up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Criminal mischief in the third degree:This charge means that an individual deliberately damages someone’s car by breaking into it to steal something and has been convicted of the same act three or more times within the past ten years. This charge also applies to anyone who damages someone’s property at a cost exceeding $250.00. Criminal mischief in the third degree is a felony, and if convicted, you could face up to four years in prison.
Criminal mischief in the second degree:This charge means that someone intentionally causes property damage in an amount exceeding $1,500.00. Criminal mischief in the second degree is a felony and has the potential for a prison sentence as long as seven years.
Criminal mischief in the first degree:This charge, the most serious,is leveled against someone who intentionally sabotages property using explosives. Criminal mischief in the first degree is a felony that can land you in prison for up to 25 years.
In all degrees of criminal mischief, whether the defendant has any ownership or personal interest in the property attacked makes no difference in the charges. Furthermore, if the charge gets linked with another crime, such as burglary, harassment, assault, weapons possession, or any other violation, then it immediately escalates, making the need for a highly accomplished attorney like James Medows all the more urgent.
The question of intent also comes into play if you are facing a charge of criminal mischief, and you need a knowledgeable lawyer to negotiate this nebulous area. Some damages may be inflicted because someone finds them “fun” or “cool.” But destruction is most often generated by rage, retaliation, the desire to intimidate or terrorize, prejudice, bitterness, envy, and a range of other emotions. Defending yourself against any such accusation requires the aid of an authority in criminal mischief. With his years of skill in handling such cases, James can ensure that your rights are protected, that no unfounded charges are leveled against you, and that you receive the most favorable outcome possible.
If you or a loved one are charged with any kind of criminal mischief, do not wait or try to handle the situation alone. Call the Law Office of James Medows so that you will have a loyal, aggressive, and compassionate attorney to ensure a positive outcome and to help you get your life back on track.