Charged with Criminal Mischief in Barnegat Township
While the term “criminal mischief” may bring up images of mischievous kids throwing toilet paper in trees, the penalties for this offense in New Jersey can include up to 5 years of imprisonment, depending on the value of the property damage. Like other police departments in the Ocean County area, authorities in Barnegat, New Jersey take criminal mischief and graffiti on property extremely seriously. In the last several weeks, the word “osiris” which is the name of an ancient Egyptian god, has been sprayed with graffiti paint on multiple buildings in the Township of Barnegat and on an overpass on the Garden State Parkway. Police are investigating these instances of criminal mischief and have shared the details on social media, asking for any individuals with information about the acts to contact the Barnegat Police Department. If they identify a suspect in this case, the person will likely be arrested and charged with criminal mischief. If you are facing criminal mischief charges in Barnegat Township or another Jersey Shore municipality, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. The attorneys at Proetta & Oliver defend clients charged in Barnegat and surrounding communities and we can help. Contact us at (848) 238-2100 for a free case evaluation.
What is criminal mischief?
In New Jersey, criminal mischief is a property offense and it usually involves trespassing or property damage. More specifically, if you purposely or knowingly damage someone else’s property or if you are reckless or negligent and cause damage to someone’s property with fire or explosives, you can be charged with this offense. You could also be charged with criminal mischief if you purposely, knowingly, or recklessly tamper with someone’s property and your tampering causes danger to property or another person.
What if I’m convicted of criminal mischief in New Jersey?
When dealing with criminal mischief charges, the level of the offense and the penalties imposed vary depending on the value of the property. Examples of criminal mischief include breaking a window, damaging a rental property, throwing and breaking someone’s personal property, or, like in the unsolved case described above, spraying graffiti.
If the property is valued at less than $500, the criminal mischief charge is a disorderly persons offense and will be heard in municipal court in the town where you are charged. However, the potential penalties are still significant and include up to 6 months of imprisonment and fines of up to $1,000.
Acts of criminal mischief that result in $500 or more of damage, and other acts occurring in certain enumerated circumstances, are classified as indictable offenses. If you are charged with an indictable offense, your case will be heard in the superior court of the county where you are charged. You will have a right to indictment by grand jury and a right to a trial by jury.
It is a fourth degree indictable offense if the property you damage is valued at between $500 and $2,000 or the offense involves tampering with air traffic control devices or airport property. Potential penalties for fourth degree criminal mischief include imprisonment of up to 18 months. Damaging property over a $2,000 value is a third degree indictable offense. You can also be charged with third degree criminal mischief if your actions cause a substantial interruption to or interference with public transportation or you damaged a burial site or research facility. If convicted, you may face up to 3 to 5 years in prison.
Barnegat NJ Criminal Mischief Attorneys
“Criminal mischief” might sound like a childish crime and not that serious, but in New Jersey, this offense can carry serious penalties. With your freedom and criminal record on the line, it is important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney who can argue on your behalf to exclude inadmissible evidence or pursue another strategy to have your charges dismissed. If you have recently been charged with criminal mischief in Barnegat Township or elsewhere in New Jersey, call our law office today at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an attorney about your case.