Defense Of Criminal Mischief In Florida
Criminal mischief: it sounds like nothing too serious—maybe a little mischievous disruption—nothing more than a bit of silliness. But the fact of the matter is, a number of activities could land you with a charge of criminal mischief, and the charge is anything but a joke.
What Constitutes Criminal Mischief?
A broad range of actions are considered criminal mischief. Essentially, it is any activity that is willingly undertaken with the intent of damaging the property of someone else. Other terms commonly used include vandalism or property damage. Actions directed toward a person are not considered criminal mischief. It would be impossible to list every single act of criminal mischief, but some common examples include:
- Putting graffiti on or otherwise defacing fences, homes, cars, or other property;
- Road rage or other revenge actions;
- Tampering with property such as a fire hydrant, a grave, a gas meter, etc.;
- Sending someone a computer virus;
- Hacking into someone’s computer;
- Destroying personal property as part of a domestic dispute;
- Breaking windows;
- Egging someone’s house.
Proving Criminal Mischief
The prosecution must address two key elements in order to obtain a conviction for criminal mischief:
Someone else’s property was altered, defaced, damaged or destroyed by the defendant; and
The property damage was intentionally—not accidentally—inflicted.
Florida law (Statute 806.13) is not lax when it comes to criminal mischief. The penalties increase based on the amount of damage:
|Value of Damage||Legal Charge||Incarceration|
|Up to $200||2nd degree misdemeanor||Up to 60 days|
|$200-$999||1st degree misdemeanor||Up to one year|
|$1,000 +||3rd degree felony||Up to five years|
Defending the Charges
To be sure, the penalties are significant. At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, we work to minimize the time or, even better, keep our clients out from behind bars. There are a number of possible defenses, some of which include:
- The alleged damage occurred as a result of an accident.
- The property in question did not belong to the plaintiff exclusively. The defendant was co-owner so there is no justification for a lawsuit.
- The damage estimate is inaccurate. Without question, adjusting the dollar amount of damage can change the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor! Haggling over this amount could be an important part of negotiations on your behalf.
- There were extenuating circumstances related to the conduct of the defendant (such as acting in self-defense).
Nip Those Charges Now
These kinds of charges obviously have serious consequences. Regardless of the circumstances, an experienced and committed Miami misdemeanors & felonies attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. To discuss the possibilities, schedule a confidential consultation at the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos today.