Criminal Mischief – The most common criminal charge for young adults in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during the spring and summer months. How serious is it?
What is criminal mischief?
Criminal mischief can include any of the following crimes and offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey:
- Tearing up lawns
- Breaking doors
- Destroying door locks
- Breaking windows
- Slashing tires
- Intentionally damaging vehicles or other personal property
How serious is a criminal mischief charge in Pennsylvania?
Criminal mischief is a very common crime that our law firm defends in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is an extremely broad charge which involves defacing, destroying, or damaging the real or person property of another person. In these cases, our criminal defense law firm has represented juveniles and adult defendants.
Under Section 3304 (Title 18), criminal mischief is a misdemeanor of the second degree if the loss is in excess of $1,000 and a misdemeanor of the third degree if the loss is in excess of $500, but less than $1,000. Briere is charged with a misdemeanor of the second and it is alleged that the value of the wheelchair exceed $1,000.00. If the damage is less than $150, it is a summary offense. Criminal Mischief is a felony (3rd degree) if the loss is in excess of $5,000 or caused an eruption or impairment to some public communication, transportation or public utility. There is no such allegation in the Briere case.
How serious is a criminal mischief charge in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, criminal mischief is graded very similar to Pennsylvania under Section 2C: 17-3 of the New Jersey Crimes Code. It is a crime of the third degree if the person causes the loss of $2,000 or more and a crime of the fourth degree if it is between $500 and $2000. In all other cases it is a disorderly person’s offense. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies or misdemeanor offenses, but rather crimes and offenses. Offenses are handled in New Jersey’s Municipal Court while crimes are handled in New Jersey’s Superior Court.
What should a person do if they are charged with criminal mischief?
If you’re charged with criminal mischief in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you should never plead guilty to the charge without first discussing your options with a qualitied criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. In many situations your criminal defense lawyer attorney can negotiate a non-trial disposition for a much favorable result which will allow you to avoid any criminal record. In addition to diversion programs, you may have strong defenses at trial which should be explored prior to entering any plea negotiations.
What is the benefit of a diversion program?
A diversion program such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) allows a person to avoid a criminal conviction and a criminal record. In Pennsylvania, misdemeanor and felony convictions are not expungeable regardless of the type of crime or the severity. Recent changes to Pennsylvania law now make certain misdemeanor convictions sealable, which limits access to the records to only law enforcement agencies. For more information, please contact our firm or visit our free download section.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in PA & NJ
Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.