The term “criminal mischief” seems rather vague; however, these offenses generally involve the damage or destruction of property, including common crimes known as “vandalism” or those involving graffiti. Due to the nature of these offenses, the charges are often accompanied by others such as trespassing or those for weapons offenses such as unlawful possession of a weapon or possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
If you have been charged with criminal mischief, the degree of these charges will be determined by a number of significant factors, including the estimated value of pecuniary loss associated with the damaged or destroyed property, the type of property, and whether or not anyone was injured as a result of the offense. Notably, those convicted of criminal mischief may be sentenced to community service and/or restitution payments to compensate for the damage incurred. These penalties may be imposed in addition to a term of incarceration and fines paid to the court.
Over the course of our combined century of experience practicing law in New Jersey, we have seen countless criminal mischief cases, as both defenders and prosecutors of those accused of these crimes. We utilize this invaluable experience to effectively advocate for our clients in courts across the State, whether the desired outcome is a plea to a lesser sentence, downgrading these charges to municipal ordinance violations, or achieving the outright dismissal of the case. When you enlist our firm, you are supported by an extraordinarily knowledgeable and proactive criminal defense team dedicated to protecting your interests. To speak with one of our distinguished legal professionals free of charge, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall. One of our attorneys is standing by the immediately assist you.
Criminal Mischief Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3
According to section N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, the law regarding criminal mischief is as follows:
A person is guilty of criminal mischief if he:
- Purposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another or damages tangible property of another recklessly or negligently in the employment of fire, explosives or other dangerous means listed in subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:17-2; or
- Purposely, knowingly or recklessly tampers with tangible property of another so as to endanger person or property, including the damaging or destroying of a rental premises by a tenant in retaliation for institution of eviction proceedings.
As mentioned previously, the degree of a charge for criminal mischief is contingent upon the following:
- The estimated value of pecuniary loss associated with the offense (the cost of the property damage)
- The type of property involved (research facility, public transportation, etc.)
- Whether or not a public service was disrupted as a result of the offense; and
- If one or more persons was injured during the commission or as a result of the offense
Contact our Readington Twp. NJ Criminal Mischief Defense Lawyers
Criminal mischief is a disorderly persons offense when the property damage is less than $500.
- Penalties may include: a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail
When the pecuniary loss is between $500 and $2,000 or if gas, oil, water pipes, or telephone wires are destroyed or tampered with, a fourth degree charge applies.
- Penalties may include: a maximum sentence of 18 months to be served in New Jersey State Prison
Criminal mischief is classified as a third degree crime if the property damage amounts to $2,000 or more or bodily injury results from the commission of the offense.
- Penalties may include: a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison
A second degree charge for criminal mischief may apply in cases in which the offense results in the impairment of a public service and this interruption causes death.
- Penalties may include: a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison
If the criminal mischief offense involves graffiti, the aforementioned penalties will be applied in accordance with the degree of the charges, in addition to the imposition of a minimum period of 20 days of community service.
To address your questions and concerns with a member of our highly knowledgeable criminal defense team, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at 908-722-1011.