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What does it mean to be charged with criminal mischief? - II

Last week, our blog began exploring how those accused of engaging in conduct that we would generally classify as vandalism -- keying a vehicle, placing graffiti, egging a house, etc. -- can face charges for criminal mischief.  

To recap, Florida law defines criminal mischief as "willfully and maliciously injur[ing] or damag[ing] by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism."

As to whether criminal mischief is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, we indicated that it depended largely upon the underlying circumstances, including the type of property destroyed, the extent of the damage caused and to the existence of a prior criminal record.

Under what circumstances could a person be charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief?

A person may be charged with second-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, if the property damage is $200 or less. However, a person may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief, punishable by up to one year in jail, if the property damage is estimated to be more than $200 but less than $1,000.  

Under what circumstances could a person be charged with felony criminal mischief?

A person may be charged with third-degree felony criminal mischief, punishable by up to five years in prison, if the property damage exceeds $1,000. Furthermore, it's also worth noting that felony charges may be brought if 1) the property damaged is a church, mosque, synagogue, other house of worship or a religious object, and 2) the damage is over $200.   

Are there any special issues relating to minors?

Those minors convicted of criminal mischief charges will see a direct impact on their driving privileges:

  • If the minor is eligible for a driver's license or already holds one, they will see their ability to secure one delayed by up to one year or their existing driver's license suspended for up to one year.
  • If the minor is currently ineligible for a driver's license by virtue of age, their ability to secure one can be delayed by up to one year starting from the date on which they would otherwise become eligible.
  • If the minor's license is already suspended, the suspension can be extended by up to one year.

If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal mischief, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about how you can protect your future.

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