Criminal Mischief Charges
If you have been charged with criminal mischief, you are probably worried about the consequences that could follow a conviction. Depending on the severity of the crime, this offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, carrying huge fines and time spent in jail or prison. Sarasota property crimes lawyer Erika Valcarcel realizes how devastating this charge can be. With experience as both a prosecutor and a defender, she can anticipate the prosecution’s strategy in order to craft a winning defense. Whether it involves pointing out police misconduct or launching an independent investigation, she will work tirelessly to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Call (941) 363-7900 today to see how you can avoid spending time behind bars.
Understanding Criminal Mischief
Like arson, criminal mischief is a property crime, one that involves intent and destruction. According to Section 806.13 of Florida Statutes, criminal mischief is defined as the willful and malicious destruction or damaging of property that belongs to another individual. Common examples of damage to property include graffiti, vandalism, breakage, defacement, and any other act that negatively alters the property’s original state. In order to reach a conviction, the prosecution must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused damaged or destroyed the property
- The alleged victim is the owner of the property in question
- The supposed damage was malicious and willful
With criminal mischief, the intent required to reach a conviction is “general” rather than “specific”. This means that the prosecution is only required to show that the act was done with will, not that the person specifically intended to damage the property. The state is also required to prove that the act of violence was directed at the property rather than the property owner.
Penalties and Collateral Consequences
The severity of the penalties assigned once a conviction is reached depends on the amount of damage done to the property. Less than $200 of damage, between $200 and $1,000 in damage, and more than $1,000 in damage will result in a second degree misdemeanor, a first degree misdemeanor, and a third degree felony, respectively. The penalties for criminal mischief include, but are not limited to:
- Second Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 60 days in jail
- First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail
- Third Degree Felony: Up to 5 years in prison
In addition to facing potential jail time, those convicted will likely face probationary sentences. During probation, you may be ordered to make restitution for any damage caused.
There are also collateral consequences of having a criminal record. Finding a job once you are released, for example, might be extremely difficult. Most employers shy away from hiring those with criminal records. Your attempts to further your education might also be stifled, as most colleges and universities vet applicants before admitting them. What’s more, many scholarships are off-limits to those with conviction histories.
Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
With the help of an experienced lawyer, it may be possible to get your charged thrown out in court. One of the most effective defenses in criminal mischief cases is proving that the damage was preexisting. While you may have made contact with the property, you might not have actually caused any visible or significant injury. It might also be the case that the damage was purely accidental. There may have been events that caused you to inadvertently make contact with another’s property.
A criminal mischief charge can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life. From ruined educational opportunities to altered relationships, there is no area left unaffected. At Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., Sarasota property crimes lawyer Erika Valcarcel understands the turmoil that can arise in these situations. She believes the most effective defense comes from listening to your side of the story. Once all of the details have been gathered, your case can be presented in the best possible light.
Call (941) 363-7900 to see how your rights and your freedom can be protected.