Criminal mischief charges are the result of the willful damaging of property of another. This charge is often manifested in the act of vandalism; spray painting pubic property or the destruction of valuables during a domestic dispute. A charge of criminal mischief can be very serious as the degree of crime varies depending upon the amount or value of property that has been damaged. Under New Jersey law, it does not matter if the property is public, private, or even if it appears to be abandoned – which is often the case. A conviction for criminal mischief carries significant penalties that include mandatory community service, probation, thousands of dollars in restitution and likely time in jail. It is for these reasons that it is very important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will defend your interests. The attorneys at the Proetta & Oliver represent clients who have been charged with criminal mischief and trespassing throughout Ocean County, including Brick, Jackson Township, Plumsted, Toms River, Berkeley Township, Stafford Township, Lacey Township, Lakehurst, Point Pleasant and Seaside. Our Ocean County criminal defense lawyers strive to get criminal mischief charges downgraded to municipal ordinance statutes or even dismissed outright, depending upon the particular facts of each case. Contact our office in Point Pleasant today for a free initial consultation with an experienced criminal mischief defense attorney at (848) 238-2100.
What is Criminal Mischief in NJ?
Under New Jersey law, criminal mischief has been given a very broad meaning that encompasses a wide range of criminal actions and property damaged. Generally, the degree of the crime is determined by the type of property that has been damaged as well as the amount of monetary loss involved. The New Jersey criminal mischief statute, N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3, in pertinent part, states that a person is guilty of criminal mischief if he or she either:
Purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or damages tangible property of another recklessly or negligently in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection (a) of N.J.S.2C:17-2; or
Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampers with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property, including the damaging or destroying of a rental premises by a tenant in retaliation for institution of eviction proceedings.
Is Criminal Mischief a Felony in NJ?
The answer to this question depends on value of the property involved. Criminal Mischief can be an indictable (felony) offense or a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor). Specifically, the degree of a criminal mischief charge is broken-down as follows:
Disorderly Persons Offense
If damage to the property is under $500 or if the damage is considered nominal and cannot be determined
If the damage exceeds $500 but is less than $2,000 or if public gas, oil, water lines, or telephone wires are tampered with
If the damage to the property is $2,000 or more
If public services were tampered with and the damage or interruption of the services caused a death
What are the Penalties for NJ Criminal Mischief Charges?
In New Jersey, the severity of your penalties will be based on the degree of your offense. Specifically, each violation for criminal mischief is subject to the following penalties:
Criminal Mischief Disorderly Persons Offense
Under this section of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3, you are facing up to six (6) months in the Ocean County Jail, a $1,000 fine, possible restitution and a criminal record.
Criminal Mischief Fourth Degree Crime
Under this section of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3, you are facing up to eighteen (18) months in New Jersey State Prison, a $10,000 fine, possible restitution and a criminal record.
Criminal Mischief Third Degree Crime
Under this section of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3, you are facing up to five (5) years in a New Jersey State Prison, a $15,000 fine, possible restitution and a criminal record.
Criminal Mischief Second Degree Crime
Under this section of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-3, you are facing up to ten (6) months in a New Jersey State Prison, fines, possible restitution and a criminal record.
What Happens if a Juvenile is Charged with Criminal Mischief?
Adults are not the only ones who can be charged with criminal mischief. Unfortunately, juveniles who engage in behavior that results in the destruction of property belonging to another will be subject to arrest and criminal charges. However, because juveniles are treated differently and they have a specific procedure that must be followed for the Juvenile Criminal Process, it is important that you understand what will happen. Your child’s chase will be heard but the Ocean County Superior Court, Family Division, and your child could be subject to detention in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center. For more information on juvenile charges involving criminal mischief, please call our office today.
Criminal Mischief Lawyers in Jackson NJ
If you or a loved one is currently facing a criminal mischief charge in Ocean County, then it is in your interest to not take it lightly and to hire an attorney. Due to the nature of the charge, it is common for our lawyers to represent clients for ancillary charges in connection with criminal mischief. These may include crimes such as Robbery, Theft of Property, Simple Assault, Burglary and Defiant Trespass. Our firm’s attorneys have personally handled a wide array of criminal and municipal court cases during their respective careers. These cases include many successfully defended criminal mischief charges. We represent clients throughout Ocean County and we are often able to negotiate a plea arrangement that does not result in a criminal conviction for the client. If you are interested in gaining assistance with your criminal mischief charge, then feel free to contact one of our experienced Ocean County criminal mischief defense lawyers who will build a customized case strategy centered upon your legal needs and the facts of your case. Call us at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.