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Criminal Mischief

Despite sounding like a less serious crime, a conviction for criminal mischief can actually carry some very severe penalties. In certain cases, criminal mischief is a felony offense.

While criminal mischief is often associated with vandalism, the crime actually encompasses all types of willful and malicious destruction of another party’s property. The value of the damage, the types of property damaged, and whether the alleged offender has been previously been convicted of this offense can all impact the degree of the crime that a person is charged with.

Lawyer for Criminal Mischief Arrests in St. Petersburg, FL

If you were arrested for an alleged criminal mischief offense anywhere in the Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients in numerous communities in and around Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, and Dunedin.

The attorneys of the Morris Law Firm can help defend against a Criminal Mischief charge. St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney Melinda Morris has experience handling these cases on both sides of the aisle as a former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County. The Morris Law Firm can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case. To receive a case evaluation, call (727) 592-5885.

Florida Criminal Mischief Information Center

Criminal Mischief Charges in Pinellas County

Under Florida Statute § 806.13, a person commits criminal mischief if he or she willfully and maliciously injures or damages by any means any real or personal property belonging to another, including, but not limited to, the placement of graffiti thereon or other acts of vandalism thereto. Criminal mischief offenses are classified based on the value of the damage allegedly caused.

If the damage to the property in question is as follows, it is graded accordingly:

  • Greater than $200 but less than $1,000 — First-degree misdemeanor; or
  • $1,000 or greater —Third-degree felony.

Criminal mischief can also be classified as a third-degree felony if an alleged offender has been previously convicted of criminal mischief or any of the following scenarios:

  • There is interruption or impairment of a business operation or public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service which costs $1,000 or more in labor and supplies to restore;
  • Willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, or any religious article contained therein, if the damage to the property is greater than $200;
  • Without the consent of the owner, willfully destroys or substantially damages any public telephone, or telephone cables, wires, fixtures, antennas, amplifiers, or any other apparatus, equipment, or appliances, when such destruction or damage renders a public telephone inoperative or which opens the body of a public telephone, provided that a conspicuous notice of the provisions of this subsection and the penalties provided is posted on or near the destroyed or damaged instrument and visible to the public at the time of the commission of the offense; and
  • Willfully and maliciously defaces, injures, or damages by any means a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility, or any property contained therein.

Criminal Mischief Penalties in St. Petersburg

Alleged offenders who are convicted of criminal mischief can be required to pay for the damages caused by such offenses in addition to the following criminal penalties:

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500;
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000; or
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

If a criminal mischief violation is specifically related to the placement of graffiti, an alleged offender can also be required to perform at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, perform at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti. Additionally, graffiti-related criminal mischief offenses are also subject to the following minimum fines established under Florida Statute § 806.13(6)(a):

  • Not less than $250 for a first conviction;
  • Not less than $500 for a second conviction; or
  • Not less than $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction.

Florida Resources for Criminal Mischief Charges

Valdes v. State, 510 So.2d 631, 632 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987) — In this oft-cited case, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed Arnaldo Valdes’ conviction for criminal mischief. The Court of Appeal noted that the value of the property damage was not “an essential element of the crime,” and once it is established that a defendant damaged another party’s property, the value of the property damage is relevant only to the severity of the crime. The Court of Appeals, however, did reverse Valdes’ concurrent sentence of three years’ imprisonment because the jury did not find that the value of the property damage exceeded $200.

Chapter 12 | Florida Standard Jury Instructions — On this section of the Florida Supreme Court website, you can view the full text of the standard jury instructions for criminal mischief cases under Chapter 12.4. Learn what three elements the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt as well as key definitions and lesser included offenses. It is important to note that jury instructions are rarely used verbatim because they often have to be modified according to the specific aspects of a particular case, but this example still provides a helpful overview of what a jury is asked to consider.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. | St. Petersburg Criminal Mischief Defense Attorney

Melinda Morris and Seth Shapiro of the Morris Law Firm, P.A. are criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg who aggressively defend clients in communities throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, and Pasco County. Call (727) 592-5885 or complete an online contact form today to have our attorneys review your case and discuss your legal options during a free initial consultation.

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