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New York Criminal Mischief Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Criminal Mischief?

Criminal mischief is a non-violent crime that involves intentionally or recklessly damaging property that belongs to another person. Examples of criminal mischief are vandalism, defacing property with graffiti, intentionally breaking a window, and breaking into a car to steal property. Criminal mischief can also involve damaging electric meters, abandoned buildings, church property, cemeteries, businesses, and property in retail stores.

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Is Criminal Mischief a Misdemeanor?

In New York there are multiple levels of criminal mischief charges based on the value of the property damaged and other factors. If the property damage was relatively low, then the charge will be a misdemeanor. Aggravating factors that would result in a felony criminal mischief charge include a significant amount of damage or the use of an explosive.

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What Is the Penalty for Criminal Mischief?

The sentence for a criminal mischief conviction depends on the specific charge. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the sentence may include a short jail term, a fine, or probation. If the charge is a felony, the sentence may include several years in prison. In either case, part of the sentence would likely include restitution for the property damage.

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What Is Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree?

Criminal mischief in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. It is designed to punish those who intentionally damage the property of another person, or those who recklessly damage property and the damage is in excess of $250. It is commonly associated with vandalism. If convicted you could be sent to jail for up to a year. However, unless you have a prior criminal record, it is more likely that your sentence will not include incarceration. However, you will likely have to pay restitution to the owner of the property that you damaged.

However, as a New York criminal mischief lawyer will explain, just because you damaged the property of another person does not mean that committed a crime. For example, if you are playing catch with your kids in your yard and you accidently break the window of your neighbor’s car, you have not committed criminal mischief. Criminal mischief requires intent to damage, or reckless actions that cause property damage.

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What Is Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree?

If you damage a vehicle of another person by breaking into it in order to steal property from it and within the prior 10 years you have been convicted of criminal mischief, then the charge will be criminal mischief in the second degree. Furthermore, if you do take property from the vehicle, in addition to being charged with criminal mischief, you will also face a larceny charge.

You will also face a third degree criminal mischief charge if you intentionally damage the property of another person and the damage exceeds $250. It is a class E felony. This means that you could be sentenced to a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of up to 5 years. You will also be ordered to pay for the damages that you caused.

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What Is Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree?

As a criminal mischief attorney in New York will explain, a criminal mischief charge will be bumped up to criminal mischief in the second degree if the damage to the property is in excess of $1500. It is a class D felony that carries a possible sentence of up to 7 years in state prison, plus restitution.

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What Is Criminal Mischief in the First Degree?

Criminal mischief in the first degree is the most serious criminal mischief crime. It is a class B felony, and carries a possible sentence of up to 25 years in prison. This offense involves intentionally damaging another person’s property using an explosive. A first degree criminal mischief charge will probably also involve a felony arson charge.

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Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are facing a criminal mischief charge, it is important to have experienced legal representation. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor, the consequences of a conviction are significant as you will end up with a criminal record. The criminal mischief attorneys serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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