Criminal Mischief is another way for saying vandalism and refers to willful and malicious destruction of certain property which belongs to someone else. In Florida, a criminal mischief charge may constitute either a felony or a misdemeanor.
A felony charge is more serious and could carry high fines along with long periods of incarceration. The decision of whether to charge someone with a felony or misdemeanor usually rests upon the amount of property damage caused.
If you were charged with criminal mischief, you may want an experienced Broward County criminal mischief lawyer in your corner representing you at every stage of your case. A distinguished criminal defense attorney could help you create a robust defense to seek the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
Common Examples of Criminal Mischief Offenses
To prove that someone is guilty of criminal mischief in Broward County, a Prosecutor typically must be able to prove each of the following beyond a doubt based upon ordinary reason and common sense:
- The offender caused injury or damage to either real property or personal property
- The property which the offender injured or damaged belongs to the alleged victim which the prosecution identifies
- The alleged offender injured or damaged the property in a willful or malicious manner
Certain actions may constitute injury or damage to property. Those actions may include acts of vandalism, defacement, or graffiti. If the Prosecutor is able to meet their burden of proof, a judge or jury may find the individual guilty of criminal mischief. At that point, the judge may pass sentence.
Classifying the Element of Property Damage
In addition to possessing a willful and malicious intent, the offender must cause some degree of damage or injury to the property, to sustain a guilty finding. As Broward County criminal mischief lawyers know, in cases where there is no provable property damage, the Prosecution may dismiss the criminal mischief charge.
Some cases of criminal mischief are more serious than others. If the value of the property is high, the prosecution could pursue a felony charge. In cases involving Felony Criminal Mischief, the prosecutor must ordinarily prove that the property damage exceeded $1,000. The prosecutor must be able to show these damages in their case by introducing certain evidence at trials, such as repair estimates and other documentation.
Speaking With a Broward County Criminal Mischief Attorney
Criminal mischief charges and convictions – especially felony convictions – can result in serious legal consequences, including fines and other penalties. If you were charged with criminal mischief, it is typically not a good idea to attempt to represent yourself during plea deal negotiations or in the courtroom.
Attending a court appearance without a lawyer may lead a judge to assume that you have waived your right to the presence of legal counsel. In that instance, a judge could allow court proceedings to occur despite your lack of legal representation.
The Broward County criminal court system can be a difficult place to navigate alone. Contact a Broward County criminal mischief lawyer as soon as possible, they may review your legal options and be able to represent you in court.