Criminal Mischief

Criminal Mischief is the crime of willfully and maliciously injuring or damaging any real or personal property belonging to another by any means. Damage includes graffiti or any other acts of vandalism. Criminal Mischief is a common charge in Broward, Miami Dade, and Palm Beach Counties. This is a fairly complex crime and properly determined value on damages can make a dramatic impact, potentially helping to avoid a felony conviction. If you find yourself or a loved one charged with Criminal Mischief, one of our Criminal Defense Attorneys may be able to help.

Definition of Criminal Mischief in Florida

The crime of Criminal Mischief, as defined by § 806.13, Florida Statutes, involves the willful and malicious injuring or damaging any real or personal property belonging to another by any means, which includes graffiti or other acts of vandalism.

The State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty Criminal Mischief by establishing the following three (3) elements of the crime:

(1) The defendant injured or damaged the real or personal property

(2) The injured or damaged property belonged to another person

(3) The defendant willfully and maliciously caused the injury or damage to the property.

(4) That (depending on which applies):

a. The damage to the property was:

i. $200 or less.

ii. more than $200, but less than $1000.

iii. $1000 or greater.

b. The defacing, injury or damage is to a church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship

c. The injury or damage is to a public telephone, or telephone cables, wires, fixtures, antennas, amplifiers, or any other apparatus, equipment, or appliances, which destruction or damage renders a public telephone inoperative or which opens the body of a public telephone

d. The defacing, injury or damage is to a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility

e. The defendant has one of more prior convictions for criminal mischief

Penalties for Criminal Mischief in Florida

(1) Criminal Mischief $200 or less is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in prison and a fine of up to $500 as provided in § 775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

(2) Criminal Mischief over $200, but less than $1000, is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 as provided in § 775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes.

(3) Criminal Mischief is a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 as provided in § 775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes, when one of the following occurs:

(a) The damage is $1000 or greater or there is an interruption in business operations or public communication or services which costs $1000 or more in labor and supplies to restore

(b) The defacing, injury or damage is to a church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship

(c) The injury or damage is to a public telephone, or telephone cables, wires, fixtures, antennas, amplifiers, or any other apparatus, equipment, or appliances, which destruction or damage renders a public telephone inoperative or which opens the body of a public telephone

(d) The defacing, injury or damage is to a sexually violent predator detention or commitment facility

(e) The defendant has one of more prior convictions for criminal mischief

Note: Any defendant previously convicted of any combination of two or more felonies in Florida who is subsequently convicted of another felony is subject to enhanced penalties or a mandatory minimum prison term as provided in § 775.084, Florida Statutes.

(4) If the violation is placement of graffiti, in addition to the other criminal penalties, there is a required fine of not less than $250 for a first conviction; not less than $500 for a second conviction, and not less than $1,000 for a third or subsequent conviction. Any person convicted of Criminal Mischief related to the placement of graffiti is also required to perform at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti.

(a) Any person convicted of Criminal Mischief related to the placement of graffiti is also required to perform at least 40 hours of community service and, if possible, at least 100 hours of community service that involves the removal of graffiti.

(b) If the defendant is a minor, the court shall direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to revoke or withhold issuance of the minor’s driver license or driving privilege for not more than 1 year, or if the driving privilege is currently suspended or revoked to extend it for up to one additional year.

Defenses to Criminal Mischief in Florida

(1) The damage was unintentional or accidental, for example, throwing an object at a person intending to hit the person but instead breaking a nearby object, such as a window or statuette

(2) The property was owned by the defendant and not the accuser

(3) There was a reasonable justification for damaging the property, such as rescuing a child or pet in a locked car

(4) There is no additional or new damage to property that existing, prior damages

(5) Insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt

Examples of Criminal Mischief in Florida

(1) Painting graffiti on a commercial or residential building or place of worship

(2) Purposely driving a motorcycle into a pool intending to damage the motorcycle

(3) “Keying” the paint or smashing the headlights and windows of an ex-friend’s car

(4) Physically damaging a vending machine

(5) Intentionally interrupting or impairing communications, utilities, or other public services

Contact Us

If you have been charged with the crime of Criminal Mischief in Broward, Miami-Dade, or Palm Beach County, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., can help you better understand your situation and your options. Contact us today for your free consultation.