It was a joke, an irrational act of anger or revenge; it was reckless behavior, but it resulted in damage to someone else’s property. In Pennsylvania, these acts of vandalism are called “criminal mischief.” Criminal mischief may not sound terrible, but these charges for criminal destruction of property can result in substantial fines, potential jail time, and a permanent criminal record that could jeopardize future employment and other opportunities.
If you are charged with criminal destruction of property in Bucks County, you should consult with a Bucks County criminal destruction of property defense lawyer. The attorneys at Young Marr & Associates have represented hundreds of people charged with destruction of property in Bucks County and will work with you to reduce fines, keep you out of jail, and eliminate other penalties. Call us at (215) 372-8667 to schedule a free consultation on your criminal destruction of property case.
Criminal Destruction of Property and Criminal Mischief Charges in Bucks County
Generally, you think of damage to or destruction of someone’s property as “vandalism,” whether it is graffiti on a wall, breaking a window, or destroying another’s personal property. In PA, deliberately destroying or damaging another’s property without their consent is called criminal mischief. Six specific actions are considered criminal mischief under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3304:
- Intentional, negligent or, reckless destruction of property using fire, explosives, or other dangerous means – this could also result in more serious arson or arson-related charges
- Intentional or reckless tampering with property in a way that endangers the property or other people
- Intentionally damaging or defacing property with spray paint, a marker, or a similar device
- Intentional damage to personal property, such as clothes or a vehicle
- Intentional damage to real property, such as a house or apartment
- Intentional damage or defacement of personal property, public property, or private property by shooting it with a paintball gun or similar device
To fully understand if your conduct falls into any of the above categories, you should consult with an experienced Bucks County criminal destruction of property defense lawyer.
The Penalties and Fines for Criminal Destruction of Property in Bucks County
If you have purposefully or recklessly damaged someone’s property, the potential penalties depend on the value of the damaged property. Any of the above acts of criminal mischief or destruction of property can result in different levels of punishment based on the value of the property loss. It is important to understand that the prosecution must not only prove that the act was committed but must also prove the value of the lost or damaged property. The severity of the charge can be challenged by disputing the value of the property – which is the actual current value of the property and not the replacement cost.
3rd Degree Felony Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief will be charged as a 3rd degree felony if the loss exceeds $5,000 or substantially interrupted or interfered with public communication, transportation, or the supply of public services. This is punishable by up to 7 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
2nd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
The offense will be charged as a 2nd degree misdemeanor if the property damage exceeds $1,000. This is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
3rd Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief will be a 3rd degree misdemeanor if the property loss exceeds $500. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Summary Criminal Mischief
Criminal mischief will be a summary offense if the property loss is $500 or less. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $250.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has an additional crime, “institutional vandalism,” which specifically punishes the intentional or reckless destruction or defacement of any of the following:
- Churches, synagogues, or any other places of worship
- Community centers
- Local government buildings or vehicles
- Juvenile detention centers
- The grounds adjacent to or used by any of these facilities
- Any personal property that is located at any of these facilities
Institutional vandalism is a 2nd degree misdemeanor unless the property loss is more than $5,000, in which case it is a 3rd degree felony.
You may also face additional penalties if the criminal mischief charge is related to a domestic violence charge. Damage to a spouse or dating partner’s personal or real property may result in mandatory counseling or require anger management courses. If the behavior violated a protection from abuse order or restraining order, then it may result in increased jail time.
It is important to consult with an experienced Bucks County criminal destruction of property defense attorney to understand the charges stemming from the criminal destruction of property. The experienced lawyers at Young Marr & Associates will work to defend you as well as mitigate the penalties and consequences you might face.
Call Our Bucks County Criminal Mischief and Destruction of Property Attorneys Today
Even though the word “mischief” may not sound terrible, charges for criminal mischief can result in a permanent criminal record, serious fines, and potential jail time. You may have merely thought you were playing a prank, or you may have lost control for a moment and are now facing serious charges. You need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that will work vigorously to defend your rights and eliminate or mitigate any charges against you. Call the Bucks County criminal destruction of property defense lawyers at Young Marr & Associates at (215) 372-8667 to schedule a free consultation.