Whether you or a loved one has been arrested, or are under investigation for criminal mischief, it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced Miami criminal mischief attorney to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.
What is Criminal Mischief?
The definition of criminal mischief can be found in Florida Statutes, Section 806.13. Put simply, the essence of the crime is the intentional malicious destruction of someone’s property. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of damage caused in dollar terms (see punishment section below for more information).
To prove the crime of criminal mischief, the State has to prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you injured or damaged real or personal property (includes graffiti).
- That the property that was damaged belonged to another person.
- That you caused the damage maliciously and on purpose.
Conduct Required for Criminal Mischief
In a criminal mischief case, the State is required to prove that your act caused damage to the property.  If the State fails to prove that you caused property damage though, you still could be charged with attempted criminal mischief.  It goes without saying that you can’t be charged with criminal mischief for damaging your own property.
Proof of Amount or Value of Damage
Proof of the amount or value of the property damage is not a required element of a criminal mischief charge. It’s only relevant to determine what degree the crime is. If you are charged with several incidents of damaging property, the damage value amounts can be added together to determine the degree charged.  The alleged damage is required to be to the actual property and the dollar amount of damage allegedly caused to the property. This amount doesn’t include lost wages or a business’ loss of sales or profits.  To prove this dollar value, the State has to present evidence of the cost of repair or replacement of the property. If the State can’t prove a specific dollar amount, then you can only be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. 
Intent Required for Criminal Mischief
In order to prove that you are guilty, the State has to prove that you acted “willfully and maliciously.”  According to Section 806.13, “willfully” means “intentionally, knowingly, and purposely.” “Maliciously” means “wrongfully, intentionally, without legal justification or excuse, and with the knowledge that injury or damage will or may be caused to another person or the property of another person.” Most Florida courts require that you have to specifically intend to damage someone’s property.  In other words, if you accidentally damage someone’s property while you were attempting to hit them, you can’t be charged with intentionally damaging their property.
Possible Punishment for Criminal Mischief Conviction
Under Florida law, criminal mischief can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor If the damage is $200 or less. If the damage is more than $200 but less than $1,000, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor. If you have a prior conviction for criminal mischief, you can be charged with a third-degree felony even if the value is $200 or less. If the damage caused is $1,000 or more, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. The law also makes criminal mischief a felony in other special circumstances involving property belonging to public utilities and businesses.
The maximum punishment if you are convicted of criminal mischief depends on the degree of crime you are charged with:
Second-Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief ($200 or less)
- A county jail sentence of up to 60 days
- A fine up to $500
- Up to six (6) months of probation
First-Degree Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief (more than $200 but less than $1,000)
- A county jail sentence of up to 364 days
- A fine up to $1,000
- Up to one year of probation
Third-Degree Felony Criminal Mischief ($1,000 or more)
- A state prison sentence of up to five (5) years
- A fine up to $5,000
- Up to five (5) years of probation
Defenses to a Criminal Mischief Charge
Possible defenses to a Criminal Mischief charge can include:
- You did not cause damage to the property
- You did not cause the damage intentionally
- You were legally justified in your conduct
- You damaged the property while defending yourself or while defending another person
Contact an Experienced Miami Criminal Mischief Attorney
Over the years, we have represented dozens of clients in criminal mischief cases. By taking the immediate action of hiring an experienced Miami criminal mischief attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your criminal mischief case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation. CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545, or simply take a moment to fill out our securely encrypted intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.
- C.B. v. State, 721 So. 2d 785 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998)
- N.R. v. State, 452 So. 2d 1052 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984)
- §806.13(5)(a), FLA. STAT.
- A.L.J. v. State, 12 So. 3d 873 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
- Marrero v. State, 71 So. 3d 881(Fla. 2011)
- Sanchez v. State, 909 So. 2d 981, 985 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005)
- See, e.g., M.H. v. State, 936 So. 2d 1 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)
*Due to the large number of people who contact us requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry in a timely and appropriate manner.
IF YOU ARE MAKING A DECISION ON HIRING A LAWYER FOR A CRIMINAL MISCHIEF CHARGE, ALWAYS INVESTIGATE AN ATTORNEY’S QUALIFICATIONS TO ENSURE THEY HAVE THE EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS TO PROPERLY DEFEND YOU.